Republican debate: Best one-liners and jabs from the first GOP presidential debate

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Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) stand onstage before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by Fox News on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash/AP

Republican debate: Best one-liners and jabs from the first GOP presidential debate

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During the first Republican presidential primary debate, a number of candidates unleashed one-liners and jabs, with some landing better than others.

Here are some of the notable zingers from Wednesday night’s debate.


Chris Christie to Vivek Ramaswamy:

“I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT standing up there.”

When asked by moderators if they believed the actions of humans were contributing to climate change, Ramaswamy called climate change a hoax and began explaining his position. This sparked Christie to interrupt the political newcomer, calling him an “amateur” who speaks like the artificial intelligence tool, “ChatGPT.”

Doug Burgum:

“I took them a little too literally when they told me to go to Milwaukee and break a leg.”

Burgum tore his Achilles tendon prior to the debate playing basketball with staff. For a while leading up to the debate, it was unclear if he would be able to participate. So, he used his opening statement to poke fun at his injury and make light of the situation.

Mike Pence to Ramaswamy:

“Now is not the time for on-the-job training. We don’t need to bring in a rookie.”

Ramaswamy has surpassed Pence in the polls, and during the debate, the two often clashed and took turns throwing jabs at one another. This interaction came amid Pence touting his conservative credentials and political experience compared to Ramaswamy’s lack of experience.

Ron DeSantis:

“Mike did his duty. I have no beef with him.”

When asked by the moderators if he thought Pence did the right thing on Jan. 6, 2021, by certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory, DeSantis dodged the question and tried to dance around it. But, when pressed by the moderators to answer the question, DeSantis provided this awkward response before moving off the question.

Nikki Haley to Ramaswamy:

You are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country.”

Ramaswamy and Haley sparred over sending aid to Ukraine. Haley supports more aid for Ukraine and wants to continue to help the country defend against President Vladimir Putin’s Russian invasion. On the other hand, Ramaswamy wants to stop aiding Ukraine, which led to this interaction.


“Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name, and what the heck is he doing in the middle of this debate stage?”

Ramaswamy was widely unknown when he first announced his presidential bid but has since surged in the polls. But, with some Americans probably still unaware of who the political newcomer is, Ramaswamy used his opening statement to poke fun at that fact.


But the comment came back to haunt him when Christie pointed out that it was oddly similar to former President Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where he referred to himself as “a skinny kid with a funny name.”

“The last person at one of these debates, Bret, who stood in the middle of the stage and said, ‘What’s a skinny guy with an odd last name doing up here?’ was Barack Obama, and I’m afraid we’re dealing with the same type of amateur,” Christie said in response to Ramaswamy’s statement.

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