“Last night Vivek Ramaswamy challenged Vice President Mike Pence’s strikingly naïve characterization of what ails America with, ‘It is not morning in America! We live in a dark moment,’” Mr. Budowich wrote in a statement he blasted out to the PAC’s email list. “The existential crisis facing the G.O.P. today is understanding the moment we live in.”
Saurabh Sharma, the 25 year-old founder of American Moment, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to staffing the next Republican administration with “America First” conservatives, saw the interaction between Mr. Pence and Mr. Ramaswamy as one that “laid bare a core divide in the conservative movement.”
“Older, well-meaning conservatives believe that the cultural and economic divide in America can be solved with modest policy changes,” Mr. Sharma said. “Generational change in the conservative movement and Republican Party will be the process by which quiet reformers give way to energetic young revolutionaries.”
During Wednesday night’s debate, the repeated clashes between Mr. Pence and Mr. Ramaswamy dramatized this generational and ideological rift. On issue after issue, they seemed to be inhabiting different planets and speaking in different languages.
Mr. Pence reminded the audience of the value of experience. In a shot at Mr. Ramaswamy, he said now was not the time for on-the-job training, not the time to risk a “rookie” in the White House. He talked about the need for America to show leadership in the world, about “peace through strength,” and he framed Ukraine’s fight against Russia as a fight for freedom that America must not shirk.