The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

UI students discuss 2024 Republican primaries 

The 2024 United States Republican primaries began on Jan. 15. University students discussed their thoughts on the candidates of the election and what the path of the Republican primaries might mean for the upcoming presidential election. 

The Republican primaries began with the Iowa caucuses. The race started with six candidates: Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump. Currently, only Haley and Trump are left in the primaries, since Ron DeSantis was the last candidate to drop out of the race on Jan. 21. 

Rishabh Shah, freshman in Information Sciences, spoke out on the candidates of the Republican primaries, acknowledging that they were all bold in their own way. 

“I was rooting for Chris Christie,” Shah said. “I think he was doing well. He genuinely understands the flaws of the Republican party and wants to create a mix of the Democratic and Republican party. So a lot of his policies are more liberal, very different.”

Christie, former governor of New Jersey, dropped out of the race on Jan. 10 and spoke out at an evening event, saying, “It’s clear to me there isn’t a path for me to win the nomination.”

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Christie was one of the Republican candidates who, in his campaign, emphasized preventing Trump from a second presidency. 

“At the end of the day, people in the Republican Party don’t want Chris Christie,” Shah said.

Shah also spoke about how Vivek Ramaswamy used social media to his advantage. Ramaswamy joined TikTok despite his desire to ban the app entirely and how the app has been shunned by the other Republican candidates. 

Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and the youngest candidate in the race, dropped out on Jan. 15 after finishing fourth in the Iowa caucus. He fully endorsed Donald Trump after suspending his campaign. 

“I think he was doing an amazing job appealing to younger populations through social media,” Shah said. “I have never seen that in my life — a guy polling third whose name we just found out four months ago.” 

Aidan Joyce, policy director of Illini Democrats, also shared his thoughts on the Republican primaries. 

“In my opinion, and I think in a lot of people’s opinions, there really isn’t a Republican primary right now,” Joyce said. “It’s kind of just Donald Trump winning every primary as you go, and Nikki Haley is sticking around — good for her, I guess — but Donald Trump already has this locked.”

Haley, former U.N. ambassador, is the only candidate left in the race besides Trump after DeSantis dropped out of the race and endorsed Trump. 

Her campaign continues to seek crucial electoral momentum after Trump, especially after one of her most decisive losses in the Nevada caucus, where she lost against the “none of these candidates” option. 

Joyce acknowledged the strength of Trump’s campaign, speaking on how he was able to garner so much support despite his history. 

“Trump spoke plainly in a way that a lot of people could understand,” Joyce said. “He spoke to a large audience who didn’t feel like they were spoken to before.”

He noted that Trump’s campaign was very forward, making himself out to be a strong, powerful individual who would fix many of the nation’s problems by himself without cowering in the face of enemies. 

“That’s a convincing argument to a lot of people who don’t believe in the Democrats or the Republicans, who think that everyone in Washington is completely corrupt,” Joyce said. “I think that kind of populist appeal is very appetizing to many people, and for Republicans especially so.”

What surprised Joyce the most was the reaction from the general population of Republicans to Trump’s indictment. 

“Trump becoming the first president to be accused of a crime in a court became a monumental moment in the Republican primary because it actually shifted a lot of support to him,” Joyce said. “It was like a rallying behind Donald Trump simply because he was indicted.”

Shah will be an election judge for the upcoming election. An election judge is responsible for ensuring citizens have fair, accessible elections. They open and close the polls, ensure only qualified voters are permitted to vote and tally the vote after the polls are closed as well as the election results for that precinct. 

Shah was also an election judge four years ago when Biden and Trump were running against each other for the first time.

“Even at that time, I had told my friends, ‘There’s no way Trump is going to win,’” Shah said. “Turns out, we wake up the next day and Trump is beating Biden. This time, I wouldn’t be shocked if Trump won. He did it once, and I don’t think it’ll take much for him to win again.” 


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About the Contributor
Reyanna Paul, Senior News Reporter
Hi, I’m Reyanna! I’m a freshman majoring in bioengineering on the pre-med track. I joined The Daily Illini in the fall semester as a staff writer and I’m currently Senior News Reporter. I’m excited to see all the great content the news staff will be putting out!
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