The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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What you don’t see on TV: the second GOP debate

Stella Muzin
Seven candidates for the Republican nomination for President faced off on Sep. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

During one of the breaks of the second GOP debate, while all the candidates were talking to their campaign managers, candidates Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stayed on stage and conversed. From watching this conversation, it seemed extremely pleasant; both candidates were laughing and seemed unstressed. My first thought was. “Will this be the ticket?” But, just moments after this conversation, once the candidates were live again, Haley quickly attacked DeSantis for his drilling policies. 

On Sept. 28, the seven candidates polling the highest behind former President Donald Trump entered onto the stage in Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. As the debate went on, it became more of a screaming match than a debate and the moderators lost control of the candidates. Although this was exciting to watch, it made me anxious about the future leadership of our country. 

I had the opportunity to attend the second Republican Party Presidential Debate for the 2024 election, and it was definitely a night to remember.

Seven candidates took the stage this Wednesday, but former President Donald Trump wasn’t one of them. Trump is the candidate who is polling the highest at 40 to 60 percent in polls nationwide.

Trump’s lack of attendance caught the attention of other candidates and they called him out during the debate in Reagan Library. Trump was called out by candidates, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and DeSantis, but Christie’s comment in particular stood out. 

Christie directly called out Trump saying, “Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself,” and followed up to let Trump know that if he kept skipping the debates, they would stop calling him Donald Trump and refer to him as Donald Duck. This comment was definitely comedic, but the general consensus on the internet is that it didn’t hit the spot the way Christie intended it to. Even in person, it got a couple of chuckles, but not the amount of laughter Christie was likely expecting. 

Another aspect of debates which you might not be able to see on television is the eye contact made by candidates. For example, when candidates would argue, they would usually look at each other, but not every candidate adhered to that strategy. One such example was DeSantis, who would look directly at the camera whenever he would argue with his opponents, rather than at his fellow candidates. This gave off an extremely fake and arrogant look to me, although I realize this likely wasn’t noticeable via the broadcast. 

After watching the debate, I quickly took to the internet to see who most people believe came out victorious, and the result was not what I was expecting. On X, formerly known as Twitter, I saw many people saying they thought Haley was the victor, but in my opinion this was far from true. After coming out of the in-person debate, I thought the victor was former Vice President Mike Pence or South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, as I thought they acted the most presidential while still attacking their opponents. 

After digging a bit deeper, I realized that the reason many people saw Haley as the victor was because of the amount of camera time she got in comparison to her competitors. Due to Haley having a spot near the middle of the stage, she was more visible in most of the shots. Because I was there in person, I was able to view the whole stage, rather than just the people who were focused on by the cameras. 

Another thing I noticed the cameras were unable to pick up was one strong line from Scott. Midway through the debate, Scott seemed agitated that the moderators were failing to allocate him talking time. At some point, he even interrupted one of the moderators and asked if they could even see him, but this line was barely noticeable on TV. Although you could hear him say this, the cameras didn’t show him as he asked, so it was as if it didn’t happen. 

Many believe the second GOP debate was a mess, with the lack of control the moderators had over candidates, but this made it much more engaging to watch in person. As an in-person viewer, I had the opportunity to compare how the different candidates reacted to questions and attacks in real time, giving me a nuanced perspective. Attending a Presidential Debate was the experience of a lifetime, and helped me feel more involved in our country’s politics. Although I know most people can’t attend these debates, I encourage you to tune in to future debates. 


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About the Contributor
Stella Muzin, Editor-in-Chief
Stella Muzin is eager to continue her work on Lion’s Tale as Editor-in-Chief after previously serving as Arts and Entertainment Editor. She's excited to continue designing spreads, editing articles and working with the rest of the staff. Outside of the newspaper, Stella is on the JDS Debate team and Swim team and is the president of the Political Discussion Club. In Stella’s free time you can find her binging reality TV or spending time with her family and friends. She's looking forward to a year of growth and improvement for the Lion’s Tale and can’t wait to be a part of it.  

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