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Trump Interview Dominates Republican Debate

Donald Trump's interview with Tucker Carlson on X, the app formerly known as Twitter, outperformed the televised GOP debate in terms of viewership.

Donald Trump is often disliked by the elite in America because of the people he associates with. He is known for mingling with working-class individuals, B-list celebrities, Nascar fans, and even prizefighters. It was through the world of prizefighting that I learned a word that perfectly describes last night's events: 'undercard'. This term refers to the minor or supporting contests that take place alongside the main event. Fox News and the Republican National Committee hosted what they called the first GOP debate of the 2024 season in Milwaukee, while simultaneously, an interview between Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump was streamed on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The question arises: which event will attract the most viewers and have the highest ratings? Which one is the undercard and which one is the main event? On the stage in Milwaukee, there were notable figures such as Asa Hutchinson, Doug Burgum, Mike Pence, and Chris Christie. Although this may not be a welterweight contest, Chris Christie's presence promised a heavyweight performance. Nikki Haley, another candidate, seemed more like a job applicant than someone ready for prime time. It is likely that two or three, or even more, of these candidates will be out of the race by the new year.

However, all eyes were on the newcomers, Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida. Based on recent performances, it was expected that Vivek would be the most compelling, and indeed he was. However, he faced a difficulty encapsulated by a conversation I had at a dinner party. The person I spoke with repeated the common belief that 'Trump can't win' and struggled to remember Vivek's name. This highlights the challenge Vivek may face in gaining recognition and support.

Thanks to the internet, I was able to switch between the debate and Tucker Carlson's interview with Donald Trump. By the end of the interview, Trump had accumulated around 100 million views. While the exact numbers for the Fox audience are unknown, it is likely to be significantly smaller. Tucker began the interview by questioning why Trump wasn't present at the debate in Milwaukee. Trump confidently responded that he was so far ahead in the polls that there was nothing to gain for him by participating.

During the interview, Tucker brought up the topic of Jeffrey Epstein's death. Tucker expressed his belief that Epstein was killed, while Trump speculated that he probably committed suicide. Tucker then asked if Trump was worried about potential assassination attempts, to which Trump responded with a nonchalant attitude.

Meanwhile, back in Milwaukee, the debate was underway. Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum began with some introductory remarks, and then Ron DeSantis was asked the first question. The choice of the song 'Rich Men North of Richmond' seemed to strike a nerve, but DeSantis focused on the need to lead the country back to energy dominance and reduce gas and grocery prices.

Throughout the debate, Mike Pence emphasized his moral character and adherence to the Constitution and Christianity. Chris Christie attempted to recreate his memorable moment from the 2015 debates when he confronted Marco Rubio. However, Ramaswamy proved to be the most substantive candidate, delivering strong lines and advocating for drilling, fracking, and burning coal to regain energy dominance. He also criticized the futile policies to combat climate change and emphasized the importance of securing our own border rather than Ukraine's.

Despite the efforts of the candidates, it became clear that the real star of the night was Donald Trump, who wasn't even present. His name was repeatedly mentioned, and questions were raised about his potential convictions, his stance on Ukraine, energy, and the regulatory state. The televised GOP debate showed that the era of staged-managed debates, where candidates have limited time to convey their messages, is over.

The debate itself was filled with gimmicks and canned questions that resembled a theatrical performance. In contrast, Trump's interview with Tucker Carlson covered a wide range of substantive issues from energy to Ukraine to the administrative state. While Trump's speaking style may be idiosyncratic, his performance was substantive and engaging, unlike the lackluster debate.

In conclusion, the undercard show in Milwaukee was largely a disaster, while the main event took place in Bedminster during the interview between Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump. The question now is how long it will take for the political apparatus to realize and accept this reality.

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