Byron Donalds: Donald Trump Won the Debate, in Absentia


MILWAUKEE — Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) told reporters in the spin room that former President Donald Trump won the first Republican debate on Wednesday evening, even though he did not show up.

Donalds, who endorsed Trump earlier this year over his own state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, told reporters that while there were several good performances, none of the candidates emerged strongly enough to challenge Trump for the nomination.

“It’s not a two-person race at this point. In my view, it’s a one-person race with a lot of other people in the race. And that’s what I think really came out of this debate tonight. That’s why I think in the grand scheme, Donald Trump’s the winner of this debate. Nobody on that stage, from what I saw, really galvanized Republicans.”

Donalds’s comments echoed those of fellow Floridian Rep. Matt Gaetz, who praised Vivek Ramaswamy, but said Trump had benefited overall.

Joel B. Pollak / Breitbart News

Other candidates, and their surrogates, felt differently. Surrogates for former Vice President Mike Pence declared that he had won the debate, though they struggled to defend some of his positions, including an indirect attack on Ramaswamy for being young.

Joel B. Pollak / Breitbart News

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who was booed at one point during the debate, joined former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in saying that he would not support Trump if he became the party nominee after being convicted of crimes.

Joel B. Pollak / Breitbart News

Trump is due to surrender to authorities in Georgia on Thursday morning to face his fourth indictment.

He elected not to participate in the debate, choosing instead to protect his massive lead in the polls. Instead, he gave an interview to former Fox News star Tucker Carlson — a none-too-subtle dig at the debate’s host network.

Donalds also argued that the other candidates should have spent more time attacking incumbent President Joe Biden, rather than each other, because voters wanted to hear how they would change the direction of the country.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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