Our Best Stuff From the Week of the First Debate

Republican presidential candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley participate in the first debate of the GOP primary season on August 23, 2023, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Hello, and happy Sunday. Did you watch the debate on Wednesday? I have to admit, for the first hour at least, it didn’t capture my sole attention. Lionel Messi, the latest soccer superstar to have a late-career stint with an MLS team, was playing in Cincinnati, and while I’m not as much of a soccer fan as I’d like to be, well, Messi was in town. I had the TV tuned to soccer, and streamed the debate on my laptop.

The soccer game ended in heartbreaking fashion: FC Cincinnati led most of the match, only to have Inter Miami tie it in stoppage  time. After each team scored a goal in overtime, keeping it tied, Miami won in penalty kicks. The debate? Well, I wasn’t rooting for anyone in particular, but one moment did stand out to me.

Vivek Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur who seems to be running as a millennial Donald Trump, had been making an overly simplistic case that we should stop funding Ukraine’s war effort so we could use our military resources to stop the “invasion” of our southern border. When former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley got her chance to respond, she delivered masterfully. Some highlights:

“The American president needs to have moral clarity,” she said. “They need to know the difference between right and wrong. They need to know the difference between good and evil. When you look at the situation with Russia and Ukraine, here you have a pro-American country that was invaded by a thug. … A win for Russia is a win for China. We have to know that. Ukraine is the first line of defense for us. And the problem that Vivek doesn’t understand is, he wants to hand Ukraine to Russia. He wants to let China eat Taiwan. He wants to go and stop funding Israel.” 

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