During the first debate in the GOP presidential primary, which was held on Wednesday in Milwaukee among the second-tier candidates (Donald Trump didn’t participate), businessman Vivek Ramaswamy alleged that everyone else present on the stage was “bought and paid for,” whatever precisely that’s even supposed to mean.
The next day, “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough was among those seeking to take Ramaswamy to task over his vindictive antagonism.
“There were other side issues here,” Scarborough remarked while discussing the debate. “Vivek, insulting everybody, accusing the janitor of being on the take. Accusing anybody that got in front of him of somehow being owned by special interests. The cameraman; I’m sure he afterwards accused him of being owned by — he accused everybody, which again, the people that are doing that — it’s just such a con.”
Immediately following Ramaswamy’s comments, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — another candidate in the field — accused the businessman of sounding like ChatGPT, a generative AI tool that gives users text responses. The moderators also asked a couple of the other contenders, including Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, whether they were “bought and paid for” as Ramaswamy alleged. Haley, a former governor-turned-former official in the Trump administration, said “no,” as did Scott. Scott also clamored for those onstage to focus on real-world issues that have substantive impacts on Americans’ lives rather than just engaging in vitriol. Good luck with that ambition, Senator.
Trump remains far ahead of everyone in polls from the GOP presidential primary, though there could, in theory, be a scenario in which he becomes substantially incapacitated in connection to his four criminal cases, including the most recent indictment issued in Georgia relating to an alleged conspiracy to target that state’s 2020 election results.
In polling, the second-place contender shifts from survey to survey, and Ramaswamy, Christie, and Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis have all sometimes been in that position in the relevant results. DeSantis received his own criticism after the debate after, among other points of concern, he struggled with answering whether he believed Mike Pence acted appropriately on January 6, when Pence went along with the regular certification of the results from the presidential election.