Aug 24, 2023, 6:40am EDT
politicsmediaNorth America

How world media is reacting to the Republican debate

Former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy is seen debating on screens in the media filing center at the first Republican candidates' debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. August 23, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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The News

Donald Trump’s absence from Wednesday night’s first 2024 Republican debate was widely noted by global media. In many cases, foreign correspondents in Washington failed to see how the other eight candidates were differentiating themselves from the former U.S. president and GOP frontrunner.

Here’s what they said.

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The View From Der Spiegel

The debate was evidence that U.S. politics ”has gone haywire," Roland Nelles and René Pfister wrote for the German-language publication Der Spiegel.

With Trump notably missing from the event, the other Republican candidates had to prove themselves as worthy of voter support — but Nelles and Pfister argued that they generally struggled to come up against Trump “and the noise he is making.” For now, they said, Trump will benefit from “the fact that his rivals appear to be members of a debating club where only consolation prizes are up for grabs.”

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The View From Le Monde

The eight Republicans that took to the debate stage all came across “as willing or powerless victims of Trumpism,” and struggled to convey an alternate conservative reality to the one Americans have been living in for the past eight years, Piotr Smolar wrote in France’s Le Monde.


While it was expected that Trump’s absence would overshadow the debate, it didn’t — making it ”all the more damning for the Republican Party which, through these contenders, showed the pessimism and lack of ideas that haunt it,” Smolar said.

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The View From The Times of India

Vivek Ramaswamy was center-stage at the debate, and received some of the sharpest rebukes from his opponents, The Times of India noted in an overview of the candidate’s performance. Ramaswamy is the U.S.’s second Hindu candidate to run for president, following Tulsi Gabbard, who ran as a Democrat in 2020.

His opponents “seemed to perceive him as a more significant threat than DeSantis,” TOI wrote, adding that Ramaswamy seemed “determined to set himself apart from conventional politicians.”