As contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination recoil from a chaotic debate, held last Wednesday, Nov. 8, voters — and viewers — have been left with a treasure trove of soundbites to form their judgements on each candidate. In this Roundtable, the Opinion section discusses which candidates they’ve got their eye on, for better or for worse.
Luke Feeney, Weekly Columnist: Nikki Haley. As a massive fan of “Veep,” I can’t help but draw some comparisons to Selina Meyer. Haley’s countless flip-flops would make Meyer proud. Depending on seemingly the day of the week, Haley holds multiple conflicting policy points. While I firmly believe that former President Trump is somewhat inevitable and is going to be the nominee, of the remaining candidates, it is Haley who has the best chance to mount somewhat of a challenge. If she can survive Iowa and New Hampshire, she’ll have her home state of South Carolina and could quickly pick up momentum. She could also get crushed by Trump, and if that happens, I think she ends up being his vice president. Her desperation for power made her join the first Trump administration and she would enthusiastically try and find a place in a second Trump administration. Haley is the only candidate I see having a viable future in the aftermath of this primary.
Dan Stark, Associate Opinion Editor: I’ve been really intrigued by Chris Christie. He’s had a full political evolution from a Trump-acolyte to his loudest opponent. The man who was almost Trump’s vice presidential pick in 2016 has been on an anti-Trump tirade since 2020 and his presidential campaign is no different. He knows he has absolutely no chance to win the nomination — he just wants to hurt Trump politically as much as possible. Seeing Christie up there on the debate stage slandering Trump while all the other candidates dance around him for fear of their political future is refreshing. Christie knows that he isn’t running for anything again, so he has nothing to lose. I also really want to see him take down a candidate like he ruthlessly did to Marco Rubio in 2016 — hopefully Vivek Ramaswamy will be his target.
Tomas Hinckley, Weekly Columnist: As someone who just did a project on Vivek Ramaswamy I feel especially qualified to answer this question. He is such a weird guy. He has a very unique mixture of midwestern charm and hypocritical policy stances and is Trump sycophant that the political world has never seen before. His stances demonstrate a complete lack of ideological backbone, like the way that he uses TikTok and super PACs for campaigning while specifically arguing for banning both those things. He also tries to appeal to the youth while trying to take away their right to vote! I would say there’s cognitive dissonance here, but that would be a generous term for what is really just a shady and disingenuous political tactic.
Nell Srinath, Opinion Editor: It was, is and always will be former president — and current, alleged, fraudster — Donald Trump. While Trump seems like low-hanging fruit as far as “interesting” candidates go, and I’m honestly shocked none of my compatriots decided to take him on, it’s shockingly difficult to capture the essence of what makes him such a jarring presence in American politics. Trump has no cohesive political stances except for appeals to the most base instincts of the American right. In the education sphere, Trump went from eviscerating the federal student loan program in 2020 to proposing a new, free “American Academy” that will compete with other four-year universities. The American Academy will be paid for by “taxing, fining, and suing” private universities for their endowments, and, as Trump so elegantly put it, there will be “no wokeness or jihadism allowed—none of that’s going to be allowed.” Trump is the kind of person to promise everything and deliver nothing of value, and I personally find that both hilarious and deeply disturbing. Or maybe I’m just incensed because, per Trump’s Agenda47 platform, he’s coming after “radical Left and Marxist maniacs” in universities. I’m just beside myself with fear.