How can the candidate who didn’t even show up be the winner of a debate?

First, the fact that venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy, one of former President Donald Trump’s strongest defenders, got the most attention at the Wednesday night event is a huge help to Trump. Had this debate been centered around Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and had DeSantis risen to that challenge, his struggling candidacy may have been given new life. Instead, all of the talk for the next few days will be about Ramaswamy.

Then there’s the fact that all but two candidates on that stage — former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson — said they would support Trump even if he were ultimately convicted of a crime. If Trump’s opponents don’t think that being convicted is disqualifying, why should any GOP voter?

Going into the debate, the presumption was that DeSantis would be a top target for attack. Yet it was Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old businessman, who drew the most flak. Like Trump, Ramaswamy relishes his role as the provocative

More from the Cook Political Report

DW
First Person
Cook Politcal Logo