The 12 wildest moments from the first GOP presidential debate

The 12 wildest moments from the first GOP presidential debate
All the times Donald Trump was mentioned by the GOP candidates

The first Republican debate of 2023 took place on Wednesday night (August 23), and provided all the surreal spectacle that you could ask for.

Eight Republican presidential candidates met at the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) debate, vying to become the next leader of the Republican party.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, former vice president Mike Pence and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson all took part.

Former president Donald Trump would have been there too but he refused to sign the RNC’s pledge. He took part in an interview with Tucker Carlson instead.

The GOP was bitterly divided on a number of key issues throughout the night during the showdown in Wisconsin

These are the wildest moments from a frequently unhinged night.

Ramaswamy’s claim that “climate change is a hoax”

One of the most shocking moments came from the youngest candidate on the floor, Ramaswamy, who claimed that “climate change is a hoax”.

The comment was met with some boos in the room, but when all the candidates were asked to raise their hands if they believed in man-made climate change, none did.

President Joe Biden chimed in with a tweet that read, simply: “Climate change is real, by the way.”

Immediate boos for Christie

Christie hadn’t even said a word when boos were heard during his introduction.

Haley quotes Margaret Thatcher

Haley, the only woman taking part in the debate, stepped in while Christie and Ramaswamy were jabbing at each other, saying: “This is exactly why Margaret Thatcher said, ‘If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman,’” she said.

Six candidates would still support Trump if convicted in a court of law

Ramaswamy ‘copying’ Obama’s opening line

Haven’t we heard that somewhere before?

DeSantis tells a bizarre story about a woman ‘aborted several times’

During a debate on abortion, DeSantis told a bizarre story claiming that a woman named Penny had survived multiple abortion attempts and was “left in a pan”.

“We’re better than what the Democrats are selling. We are not going to allow abortion all the way up ‘til birth, and we will hold them accountable for their extremism,” DeSantis said on stage.

“I know a lady in Florida named Penny. She survived multiple abortion attempts. She was left discarded in a pan,” he continued.

“Fortunately, her grandmother saved her and brought her to a different hospital.”

Haley goes in studs-up on Trump

Haley took a few digs at Trump, which largely appeared to go down well in the room.

She accused the Trump administration of adding trillions of dollars to the national debt, as well as calling him the “most disliked politician” in the US.

Chris Christie says Vivek sounds like ChatGPT

Christie puts the boot in on Trump to boos

"The conduct is beneath the office of President of the United States,” Christie said, adding that “booing is allowed but it doesn’t change the truth.”

DeSantis humbled over numbers in the polls

Clashing over war in Ukraine

It’s not often that foreign policy is the focus of debates like this one, but one of the biggest talking points on Wednesday was Ukraine. People across the floor took very different viewpoints, with Ramaswamy and DeSantis would not send more funding to Ukraine

Haley, however, made a strong stands against Putin and made her main attack against Ramaswamy focused around his lack of experience in foreign policy.

DeSantis trying to smile like a human

Plenty of commentators focused on DeSantis and his not-so-natural facial expressions during the debate.

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