Issues addressed at the second Republican presidential debate

September 28, 2023

Seven Republican candidates participated in the second Republican presidential primary debate on September 27, 2023, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, biotech entrepreneur and political commentator Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina all remarked the American people.

Questions from moderators,Fox News’ Dana Perino, FOX Business’ Stuart Varney and Univision’s Ilia Calderón aimed at highlighting important and ongoing issues in the country. 

Below are a few of the many issues covered at the second GOP debate. 


The United Auto Workers strike began on September 14, 2023, after the union’s contract ended with the “big three” auto companies, General Motors, Stellantis and Ford. The strike launched at midnight when 13,000 workers walked out of assembly plants.

The strike has quickly heightened in size and media attention, as workers have walked out of 38 facilities across 20 different states. The workers are asking for a 36% raise, a demand the auto companies have been unable to meet. President Biden briefly joined the picket lines, sparking conversation at the debate.

Scott said that unions want a “four day French workweek” and more money, which he says is “not going to stand.” The South Carolina senator also took aim at Biden and his position on the issue during the debate. 

“Joe Biden should not be on the picket line. He should be on the southern border working to close our southern border because it is unsafe, wide open and insecure, leading to the deaths of 70,000 Americans in the last 12 months because of fentanyl. It is devastating,” Scott said.

Ramasaway also remarked on the strike, saying that autoworkers should “picket” in front of the White House instead. The entrepreneur touched on his own life and growing up in a family struggling to make ends meet. While representing his upbringing, he said “hardship is not a choice.”

“But victimhood is a choice, and we choose to be victorious in the United States of America,” Ramaswamy said.


Burgum said he believes people are striking, pointing at Biden. 

“The reason why people are striking in Detroit is because Joe Biden’s interference with capital markets and with free markets,” he said.

The state of the economy as a whole is a concern to the American people.

“Bidenomics,” a term coined to outline the economic policies of the Biden administration, has not proven popular among Americans. Bidenomics aims to create jobs and infrastructure investments, yet Biden’s approval ratings for handling of the economy have remained at an all-time low.


During the debate, Pence brought up Bidenomics, expressing that it has failed. 

“Wages are not keeping up with inflation, autoworkers and all American workers are feeling it. Families are struggling in this economy,” Pence said.

Many parents are grappling with the decision whether it is more financially beneficial for them to work, or stay at home with their kids to save on childcare costs. 

The American Rescue Plan was passed in 2021 with the intent to provide relief to families and businesses and grow the economy following struggles emerging during COVID-19 pandemic. The relief plan could end and cause thousands of day cares to shut their doors.

“The challenges that we see today under the Biden administration is that the costs for day care has gone over $15,000 per child and the build back broker plan, he called it a build back better plan, it was going up to $29,000,” Scott said on Wednesday.

“The way we fix that problem is to make sure that we actually cut taxes and give more Americans their money back,” he continued.


The expiration of the funds has accelerated a Democratic backed initiative known as the Child Care Stabilization Act.

This initiative is intended to keep small businesses operational and keep doors open to provide affordable day care for children. This plan would provide $16 billion per year for five years to help with operating costs.

Most of the candidates took the time to speak on immigration issues in the country. Christie and Haley, specifically, commented on the Biden administration’s poor handling of the crisis at the border.

“What we have to do now is first treat this like the law enforcement problem it is. Our laws are being broken every day at the southern boarder. Every day,” Christie said. 

“Joe Biden and his crew is doing nothing about enforcing that law. They are letting it go. And by the way, they announced during the presidential race they were going to let it go,” he continued. 


“What happens when Joe Biden waved the green flag it told everybody to come,” Haley said. “Now we’ve seen 6 million people cross the border. We’ve had more fentanyl that has killed Americans in the Iraq, Vietnam or Afghanistan wars combined. We need to make sure that we are a country of laws.”

Haley stood firmly on the idea that sanctuary cities need to be defunded. Sanctuary cities have adopted polices focused on immigrants and federal immigration enforcement agencies, specifically ICE, interact with one another. 

For example, in these cities, limited information is shared about immigration status with authorities, and authorities will not detain an individual solely based on their immigration status. Many critics of these policies believe that the system prevents law enforcement from being able to properly do their jobs, and can allow potentially dangerous criminals into the country.

“The second we stop being a country of laws, we give up everything this country was founded on. So we have to secure the border,” she added. “The way we do that is, first of all, defund sanctuary cities. You see what’s happening in Philadelphia right now. It’s got to stop. We need to make sure we put 25,000 more Border Patrol and ICE agents on the ground and let them do their job.”

“I spent 400 miles down that border, and I’m telling you, Border Patrol agents aren’t allowed to do their job. Let’s go back to remain in Mexico policy instead of catch and release. Let’s go to catch and deport,” Haley said.

During the second debate, Ramaswamy agreed with other candidates and also reiterated his call to end birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants.


“I favor ending birthright citizenship for the kids of illegal immigrants in this country,” he said during a segment of the debate on the border crisis. “Now the left will howl about the Constitution and the 14th Amendment. The difference between me and them is I’ve actually read the 14th Amendment.”

“What it says is that all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the laws and jurisdiction thereof are citizens. So nobody believes that the kid of a Mexican diplomat in this country enjoys birthright citizenship, not a judge or legal scholar in this country will disagree with me on that,” he added.

Education issues, including DEI and CRT in schools, was a central topic at the debate. 

DeSantis took the time to defend Florida’s African-American history curriculum after critics charged the governor. Specifically, the line in the curriculum stating “instruction includes how slaves developed skills, which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit” was up for debate. 

DeSantis was asked about the curriculum, to which he responded the outrage was fueled by a “hoax” started by Vice President Kamala Harris.

“So first of all, that’s a hoax that was perpetrated by Kamala Harris. We are not going to be doing that.”

“Second of all, that was written by descendants of slaves. These are great black history scholars. So we need to stop playing these games,” he continued. “Here’s the deal. Our country’s education system is in decline because it’s focused on indoctrination, denying parents’ rights. Florida represents the revival of American education. We’re ranked number one in the nation in education by U.S. News and World Report.”


“My wife and I, we have a six, five and three-year-old. This is personal to us. We didn’t just talk about universal school choice. We enacted universal school choice. We didn’t just talk about Parents Bill of Rights. We enacted the Parents Bill of Rights. We eliminated critical race theory and we now have American civics in the Constitution in our schools in a really big way, just like President Reagan asked for in his farewell address back in 1989. Florida is showing how it’s done. We’re standing with parents and our kids are benefiting.”

Scott responded to DeSantis, stating “there is not a redeeming quality in slavery.”

“If you want to restore our hope, you’ve got to restore the family, restore capitalism and put Americans back at work together as one American family,” Scott said after pushing back on DeSantis’ defense of his state’s school curriculum on slavery.

“I have been discriminated against, but America is not a racist country. Never, ever doubt who we are. We are the greatest country on God’s green earth and frankly, the city on the hill needs a brand new leader. And I’m asking for your vote,” he added.


Ramaswamy talked about parents’ rights as it relates to their children’s education, calling transgenderism “a mental health disorder.” 

“Transgenderism, especially in kids, is a mental health disorder. We have to acknowledge the truth of that for what it is,” the entrepreneur said.

“Parents have the right to know,” he went on to say when pushed about parental rights.

“The very people who say that this increases the risk of suicide are also the ones saying that parents don’t have the right to know about that increased risk of suicide,” he said. “And sorry, it is not compassionate to affirm a kid’s confusion, that is not compassion, that is cruelty.”

“I met two young women, Chloe and Katie, early in this campaign who are in their twenties now regret getting double mastectomies and a hysterectomy. One of them will never have children and the fact that we allowed that to happen in this country is barbaric. So I will ban genital mutilation or chemical castration under the age of 18.”

The topic of oil and gas production in the U.S. was a heavy hitter. Fracking, especially, heated the candidates on the main stage.

Haley touched on the importance of having energy security, and took the moment to take a shot at DeSantis and his energy policies in Florida.

“Energy security is national security. We need a president that understands we have to partner with our producers and make sure that we have their backs. What you don’t need is a president who is against energy independence. Ron DeSantis is against fracking, he’s against drilling, he’s been against — you did it,” Haley remarked before DeSantis interjected.

“You banned fracking, you banned offshore drilling — you did it on federal lands, and you took green subsidies that you didn’t have to take,” she continued.

DeSantis laughed during Nikki’s claims and rejected that he opposed fracking or drilling on federal lands.


Fracking is a controversial method of retrieving natural oil and gas from rock deep in the Earth by blasting them with large amounts of water, plus chemicals and sand. 

Fracking has created millions of jobs and allowed the U.S. to grow in natural gas and oil production and overall grow the economy. Critics have called fracking irresponsible due to the large volume of water and chemicals used and the perceived dangers to the environment and humans.

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