Updated Aug 24, 2023, 6:49am EDT

The Trumpiest debate party

Kadia Goba

Sign up for Semafor Principals: What the White House is reading. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Vivek Ramaswamy was the clear winner among attendees of the New York Young Republican Club’s GOP watch party, where wine, whiskey, and champagne were flowing. The group has a reputation for its extreme love of Donald Trump — and its extremism, more broadly.

Title icon

Know More

About a hundred people packed into their 1200-sq-ft. Chelsea walk-up with exposed brick, tufted leather sofas, and photos of Trump and other iconic Republicans, both dead and alive. At the start, Gavin Wax, the president of the club, thanked people for coming to see “the debate for the next vice president.” The plan: watch the live debate until 11 p.m. and then flip to the Tucker Carlson interview with Trump, though they never quieted down enough to hear it.

Shouts of “Christie looks fuckin’ fat” and “Who’s that?” at the sight of former Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Doug Burgum set the tone for the first quarter of the debate. The biggest reaction came during the Jan. 6 section, when attendees scowled at the idea that Mike Pence was right in his decision to defy Trump’s request to help overturn the election. “Pence is a fuckin’ traitor,” Don Valencia, 23, a member of the club, yelled.

Rep. George Santos, an ardent Trump supporter, weighed in on the night: “Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley for the win,” he told Semafor. “And if you think about it, they’re both South Asian.” And while he said Tim Scott is a “good guy,” he was less complimentary about his debate performance. “He stayed sleeping,” he said.