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GOP Debate in Milwaukee Was a Crowd Pleaser

Marti Mikkelson


Hundreds of supporters came from all over southeastern Wisconsin to get a glimpse of their favorite presidential candidates in Milwaukee Tuesday night. Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal hosted the fourth Republican debate at the Milwaukee Theatre.

Many people attending the debate were dressed in suits and business attire as they walked through metal detectors and filed into the theater. After two hours, the crowd poured out of the place, brimming with excitement. Lauren Remsik lives in Milwaukee and says after seeing four debates, she’s still undecided.

“I’m not sure, I really liked Carly Fiorina tonight and I wasn’t a supporter of her before. I thought Jeb did a good job as well. I thought Carson was a little disappointing, he didn’t have a lot to say but I expected that because it focused on economic affairs,” Remsik says.

Remsik says one candidate who didn’t appeal to her in the debate is Donald Trump. Quinn Robinson calls the real estate mogul’s plan to build a wall and kick immigrants out of the country, a turn off.

“It’s unrealistic to ship and deport 11 million Americans. I don’t have a problem with illegal immigrants being here. If they’re law abiding citizens and they’re doing good work and they’re making this country great again, I don’t have a problem with them staying here,” Robinson says.

Robinson says he’s leaning toward voting for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio because he’s pushed for a path to citizenship. Another person here is Tom Taylor of Franklin. He’s wearing a Carly Fiorina button and says he thinks she won the debate, hands down.

“Everything that she said was so thoughtful. She made so much sense. You could see she was a true CEO of a corporation and she’d make a terrific president,” Taylor says.

Taylor also thinks Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie performed well. But, one person who didn’t impress him was Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“I thought he interrupted too often. With all the people they have there, you’re on the stage with governors, senators, so a little courtesy goes a long way I think,” Taylor says.

The last person I ran into was former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson. He ran for president in 2008. He says he makes no secret of who he’s supporting: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But, he says he can understand why many GOP voters like several candidates, and are having a hard time making a decision.

“I think Jeb Bush had a good night, I think Rubio had a good night, I think Donald Trump had a good night and I think Carly Fiorina had an excellent night,” Thompson says.

Thompson thinks the economy remains the number one concern on people’s minds and says he’s pleased the debate focused largely on pocketbook issues.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.