Climate Change, Mental Health and UFOs: Moments You May Have Missed at the First Republican Preliminary Debate

Many headlines in the first Republican primary debate focused on candidate comments on key issues such as abortion, Ukraine and the January 6 attacks. But the two-hour debate also included many other topics on the minds of voters, including climate change and Southern issues. Borders, mental health and guns, and UFOs.

Candidates on climate change

Climate change was a divisive issue during the debate and was one of the first incidents in which candidates clashed on the podium.

During Wednesday’s debate, candidates answered pre-recorded questions from Young America Foundation’s Alexander Diaz, who said climate change was the “first problem for young people” in a poll. said to have been shown.

“How do you, as president of the United States and leader of the Republican Party, allay fears that the Republican Party is indifferent to climate change?” Diaz asked.

Moderators Brett Byer and Martha McCallum then asked the candidates, raising their hands, if they believed human actions were causing climate change.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis raised his hand and quickly responded, “Look, we’re not in elementary school. Let’s have a debate.” Instead of discussing the causes of climate change, DeSantis criticized President Joe Biden’s response to the Maui wildfires.

Tech entrepreneur Ramaswamy appears to be in denial about the climate crisis.

“I’m the only person on this stage who hasn’t paid for anything, so I can only say this: Climate change is a hoax,” Ramaswamy said, to the reaction of the audience.

According to Politifact, it’s almost universally accepted that human activity is the cause of global warming, with more than 97% of the world’s climate scientists agreeing.

Ramaswamy said the climate change problem is holding back the US economy, saying that “more people die from bad climate change policies than from actual climate change.”

The number of deaths linked to climate change policies is unknown, but the number of deaths linked to the climate crisis is in the millions. The World Meteorological Organization estimates that between 1970 and 2021, extreme weather and climate-related phenomena caused disasters that killed more than 2 million people. About 250,000 more people are expected to die annually between 2030 and 2050 due to climate change, according to a WHO report.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, the only candidate to admit climate change is real, said the effort would start abroad.

“If we really want to change the environment, we need to start telling China and India that they need to cut their emissions,” Haley said. “That’s our problem.”

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott said the best thing to do to improve the environment was to “bring jobs back from China.”

During the debate, Biden asked X (formerly Twitter) for his opinion on the subject.

“By the way, climate change is real.” he wrote

DeSantis will send troops to the border

DeSantis said he would order US troops in Mexico to attack drug traffickers and cartels. This is what he proposed while avoiding criticism of his own stance on aid to Ukraine.

“We’re going to declare a national emergency. We’re not going to send troops to Ukraine, but we’re going to send troops to the southern border,” Haley said. We can send them, and we can also send aid to Ukraine. Work on border security.

“When drug traffickers are bringing fentanyl across the border, that’s their last move. We’re going to use force and let them freeze to death,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis then asked the moderator if he supported sending U.S. Special Forces to Mexico, which was effectively an invasion of another country, to attack the “Fentanyl Labs” and “Drug Cartel Activities.” He said he plans to do so on a “day.” One. “

“You want to talk about a country in decline. Cartels control many areas… your southern border. We must reestablish the rule of law.” , and we have to protect our people… yes, we intend to use lethal weapons yes, we reserve the right to conduct operations,” DeSantis said.

Former Vice President Mike Pence also spoke about an operation to take out cartels and drug traffickers, but it was within the framework of engaging with Mexico and working with the Mexican military.

“We will work with the Mexican military to hunt down and destroy the cartels that are killing lives in the United States,” Pence said.

Ramaswamy talks mental health and guns

When discussing gun violence, Ramaswamy linked mental health and violent crime, adding that he would reopen closed mental health facilities.

“We are also experiencing a mental health epidemic in this country. At the same time that mental health facilities are closing, violent crime is soaring. Do we have the backbone to bring them back?” said. “I think we should. As president, I will.”

Republicans have often framed the issue of gun violence in the United States around mental health, but experts warn that mental health is not the primary cause or sole responsibility of mass shootings and gun violence. ing.

Experts also said people with mental illness were more likely to become victims of violence than those who committed violence, and that discussions of mental illness linked to gun reform stigmatized those with mental illness.

Ramaswamy’s comments about the need for more mental health resources reflect some bipartisan views on increasing access to those resources. The Biden administration has channeled funds from Congress’ anti-gun violence bill into mental health care.

Christie Talks UFOs and New Jerseyers

This summer, Congress held high-profile hearings on unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, known as UFOs.

Debate moderator McCallum framed the question as “a little otherworldly” and asked Christie if he intended to “speak the same opinion as the American people” about what the United States knew about UFO sightings. Ta.

“Did you get the UFO question? Come on,” an exasperated Christie interrupted.

The former governor quipped that he and McCallum are from the same state, New Jersey, as the question.

“Look, Martha, especially a woman from New Jersey, thinks it’s disgusting that you asked me about unidentified flying objects and Martians just because I’m from New Jersey. We’re not. But we’re not.” No,” said Christie with a smile.

A native of Wyckoff, New Jersey, McCallum now lives in Summit, across several counties.

In a more serious answer, Christie said, “The job of the President of the United States is to stand on an equal footing with the American people in all things. The job of the President of the United States is to defend the truth.”

If you are going through a mental health crisis, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. A trained crisis counselor is available to her free of charge 24/7. You can also visit

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