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GOP Lawmakers Exultant After Thursday Debate

Republicans on the Hill saw the Trump–Biden showdown as a political sea change.

First Presidential Debate; Biden vs Trump

Thursday night’s presidential debate between the former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden sent shockwaves far beyond the audience-less CNN studio in Atlanta. 

Biden’s stumbling, sputtering performance sent Democrats in a tailspin. Calls for Biden to step down echoed across the media landscape, ushering in rampant speculation on who ought to replace Biden atop the Democratic ticket. 


Trump and his campaign saw blood in the water. The former president, who has a penchant for rambling himself, hit the right notes on immigration, trade, and foreign policy. Trump’s campaign released a statement declaring victory before the candidates delivered their closing statements.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are also taking a victory lap by writing obituaries for Biden’s presidency, if not for the man himself.

“Clearly, President Biden is unfit for office,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) wrote in an emailed statement to The American Conservative. “I’ve been saying that as a result of Senator Grassley’s and my investigation into the Biden crime family since 2020. His mental and physical decline has been obvious throughout his presidency.”

“To anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, last night should have been a wake-up call,” the Wisconsin senator added.

“Joe Biden performed exactly as I thought he would,” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) said in an email to TAC. “He had difficulty formulating a coherent sentence, and his facts and data were often inaccurate and delivered by a clearly confused man.”


Rosendale added that the consequences of Biden’s frailty goes beyond the debate stage: “Joe Biden’s marginalized cognitive state was on full display last night for our county, but also for the world, which puts us in a very dangerous position.”

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) agrees. “First, from a national security standpoint, this is a crisis. From China to Russia to Iran, our adversaries are certainly looking for avenues to exploit what is clearly a void in the Oval Office,” Norman told TAC. “After Joe Biden’s appearance last night, we are significantly weaker on the international stage.”

“Let’s hope the advisors and staff in the White House know what they’re doing, because it’s clear they’re the ones running the Executive Branch of our government,” Norman continued. “And finally, from his press secretaries to his allies in the media, NEVER FORGET how many people have lied to you about Joe Biden’s cognitive state.”

“Look, I don’t take glee in it, in saying this, but clearly the president struggled tonight,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told CNN after the debate. “And I do worry about the impact that that has in Beijing, in Tehran, in places—Moscow—where adversaries see that and feel emboldened to be more adventurous.”

“That’s not a good thing for our country,” Rubio concluded.

“Americans saw the contrast on stage plain as day: a feeble-minded and weak-kneed man who let our country and the world fall apart, and Donald J. Trump, who will restore strength and leadership to the White House,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) tweeted.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) piled on. “Last night, we saw the sad state of President Biden on full display, which Democrat-run media had been working for years to hide, deny, and explain away,” Lee told TAC. “Well, they can’t deny it any longer. It is unclear whether this man should continue to control America’s nuclear codes until next January.”

“No one watching last night’s debate could ignore Joe’s cognitive failures and inability to grasp even his own policy positions,” said Representative Eli Crane (R-AZ) in an email comment to TAC. “He’s mentally unfit to serve as Commander in Chief.”

He added, “With Biden up on that stage next to President Trump, the American people witnessed a jarring contrast between a confused, incoherent candidate unqualified for his current position and a strong, sharp leader with a vision who belongs back in the Oval Office.”

“That was cringe,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said in a radio interview. “I felt sorry for the guy. Here’s a guy that has no idea what he’s doing. He has no idea what his administration does.” 

Meanwhile, Scott said, “Trump was great”:

Trump was engaged. He was respectful. He talked about the issues. And Biden took no responsibility for an open border, no responsibility for inflation, no responsibility for horrible foreign policy. You have to be the most partisan Democrat to even suggest that Biden had a great night.

“If our enemies watched that, which I’m assuming they did, what they know is that we’ve got a guy at the helm that has no ability to perform,” Scott concluded.

With or without Biden on the ticket, Wisconsin’s Johnson told TAC, Democrats are poised to lose in November. “As the Democrat party scrambles to replace Biden as their nominee, Americans must also recognize that it hasn’t just been Biden who has put our nation on the path of destruction, it is Democrat governance across the board that has done so,” Johnson said. “Any Democrat replacement candidate will continue the same disastrous policies, regardless of whatever lies they tell to win.”