The Second Republican Presidential Debate — An Abridged Version

Because shortening this is an act of humanitarian mercy

Kevin Donovan
6 min readOct 4, 2023
Mark Terrill/AP

For those of you who were unable to watch the most recent Republican primary presidential debate because you were wisely doing something else (anything else), you’re in luck.

My extensive team of political analysts has assembled a cliff notes version of the 2-hour debate for your convenience, because every other moment you would have spent watching it could never have been taken back.

Let’s jump right in!

FOX MODERATOR STUART VARNEY: We’re inside the spectacular Air Force One Pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Library, where the stage is set for a showdown. I’m Stuart Varney of FOX Business, and I am thrilled to be sitting alongside my co-moderators, FOX News Channel, Dana Perino and Ilia Calderon of Univision.

Senator Scott, the first question is for you. You recently reacted by praising Ronald Reagan for firing air traffic controllers in the 1980s, saying, you strike, you’re fired. Would you fire thousands of striking auto workers today, Senator?

SOUTH CAROLINA SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Yes, because the auto workers want a four-day “French” workweek and more money. And they want pensions and healthcare. They want to actually make a living, like the French do. We need to immediately close the border before the French come in, with all those other people who are bringing fentanyl. But it will be French fentanyl, which is not as good as regular American fentanyl. God bless America!

FOX MODERATOR DANA PERINO: Mr. Ramaswamy, do you agree?

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE VIVEK RAMASWAMY: My mom had to work overtime in nursing homes in southwest Ohio to make ends meet, pay off our home loan and cover the exorbitant cost of my strange haircuts. So I understand that hardship is not a choice. But victimhood is a choice.

What we need is to deliver economic growth in this country. Unlock American energy, drill, frack, burn coal, embrace nuclear energy, burn down the forests, frack some more, burn some more, light other things on fire, drill baby drill, burn baby burn, and get rid of ALL regulations. And for those workers who suffer from massive toxic chemical burns in the workplace, for those whose kitchen faucet has turned into a flame thrower, for those living nearby an American-owned railroad that has crashed into their living room, I say this to you today: Don’t be a victim! That’s what it means to be an American!

FOX MODERATOR ILIA CALDERON: The next question is for you Governor DeSantis. What would you do about the economy?

FLORIDA GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS: The people in Washington are shutting down the American dream with their reckless behavior. They borrowed, they printed, they spent and now you’re paying more for everything. And all that printing, all those printer cartridges — it is the biggest rip off in America. And it has shut down our national sovereignty by allowing our border to be wide open, allowing illegal aliens to smuggle in knock-off printer cartridges that could ruin your printer because they’re not the certified Hewlett-Packer versions.

So please spare me the crocodile tears for these people. They need to change what’s going on. And where’s Joe Biden? He’s completely missing in action.

PERINO: Governor DeSantis, he is actually a Democrat. This is a Republican debate.

DESANTIS: And you know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be on this stage tonight. I was in action once. I was over in Iraq. Before that, I went to Harvard and Yale. I hated everyone there. And they hated me. They hated my guts. So, I went to Iraq.

NORTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR DOUG BURGHAM: I need to jump in here . . .

VARNEY: Sorry sir, who are you? I didn’t see you over there. I still don’t see you over there. Mr. Ramaswamy, you had your hand up in the shape of a “V’, because that’s just one of the stupid silly things you do.

RAMASWAMY: Yes, the real divide is not between the Republicans on this stage. And in the Reagan Library, I want to say these are good people on this stage. The real divide is between the majority of us in this country who love the United States of America and share our founding ideals, free speech, meritocracy on Tik Tok, like I do.

FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR NIKKI HALEY: Tik Tok is how China takes over America! Every time I hear you I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.

DESANTIS: I’d like to interject, I’m dumber.

SCOTT: No, no, I’m dumber

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Thank you for the question and thank you to the Ronald Reagan library for hosting us this evening. As Donald Trump’s vice President, I am the only person on this stage who can take full responsibility for being the dumbest.

(Crosstalk as each candidate argues over who is the dumbest.)

VARNEY: On the subject of education, a question for Governor Christie. Students in your state are getting high marks on their report cards. But minorities are not doing well with math and reading. Black and Hispanic students are averaging 29 points lower than white students in New Jersey. Would you address minorities first?

FORMER NJ GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: First of all, I need to point out that you have the President of the United States sleeping with a member of the teacher’s union!

SCOTT: I’m a minority and I haven’t slept with anyone.

PENCE: I have been sleeping with a teacher for 38 years. I call her Mother.

HALEY: Gross.

SCOTT: Well, if we mean literally, sleeping, then . . .

RAMASWAMY: We are in bed with Ukraine when we should be in bed with Russia. We need to pull out of Ukraine.

SCOTT: What does that mean, pulling out?

HALEY: You definitely wouldn’t know.

BURGHAM: I’d like to get in here . . .

CALDERON: Who is that man over there?

DESANTIS: The problem with our education system is that they have books. We should not have books. Except the ones that say racism doesn’t exist and slaves received free ongoing vocational training and career counseling.

CALDERON: Senator Scott, we have another question for you . . .

SCOTT: I’d like to finish my conversation with Nikki

HALEY: Bring it on, Tim-ster! The Timster-meister, Timmy-boy, Tim-o-rama! Bring it on!

SCOTT: As the U.N. ambassador, you literally put $50,000 on curtains and a $15 million subsidized location.

HALEY: Curtains? You are scrapping Timbo.

SCOTT: Go watch YouTube. Nikki is on Youtube. With the curtains!

HALEY: Do your homework, Tim, because Obama bought those curtains.

SCOTT: Did you return them?

HALEY: It’s the State Department.

SCOTT: Did you send them back?

HALEY: Did you send them back? You’re the one that works in Congress.

SCOTT: They’re not my curtains, they were your fucking curtains.

HALEY: They weren’t my fucking curtains. Fuck you.

SCOTT: Fuck you! You hung those curtains.

PENCE: I think I stand on this stage as the one person who can speak about hanging with authority.

HALEY: And besides, I couldn’t return them, I didn’t have the receipt. Obama had the receipt.

SCOTT: See, that’s where you’re wrong, Nikki! You don’t need a receipt anymore. They have our credit card information, so it’s really easy, you just go back to the store and . . .

(Cross talk as Scott and Haley continue to argue about the fucking curtains.)

PERINO: Okay, it’s time for our final question. Candidates, it’s now obvious that if you all stay in the race you are all going to lose, and former President Donald Trump wins the nomination. None of you have indicated that you’re dropping out. So, which one of you, on stage, tonight, should be voted off the island? You have 30 seconds to write your answers on the card in front of you.

(Jeopardy music plays)

VARNEY: Time’s up, markers down please. Governor Christie, no one else wrote anything, but I see you did. Who did you vote off the island?

CHRISTIE: I wrote “Who is Donald Duck?”

DESANTIS: I was told there would be no Disney characters.

BURGHAM: Donald Duck voted off the island? He’ll be fine, he’s a duck. And if it walks like a duck . . .

PENCE: Sometimes when I’m feeling even friskier, I call her Mommy.

SCOTT: What about the curtains?

HALEY: I feel dumber every time . . .

RAMASWAMY: Thank you for talking while I’m interrupting. Thank you for talking while I’m interrupting. Thank you for talking while I’m interrupting. Error. Error.

PERINO: Well, that brings us to the end of tonight’s Republican Presidential Debate.

And as former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly recently said, God help us!



Kevin Donovan

Where there is great fear, there is no empathy. Where there is great empathy, there is no fear.