MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Republican presidential candidates vying to be the leading alternative to front-runner Donald Trump fought — sometimes bitterly — over abortion rights, U.S. support for Ukraine and the type of experience needed to manage an expansive federal government during the first debate of the 2024 campaign.
But when it came to arguably the most consequential choice facing the party, virtually everyone on the debate stage in Milwaukee on Wednesday night lined up behind Trump, who declined to participate, citing his commanding lead. Most said they would support Trump as their nominee even if he is convicted in a series of cases that range from his handling of classified documents to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his role in making hush money payments to a porn actress and other women.
“Let’s just speak the truth,” said tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. “President Trump, I believe, was the best president of the 21st century. It’s a fact.”