Wednesday night brought us the first glimpse of some of the Republican presidential candidates together.

Eight of the 14 candidates appeared for the first debate in Milwaukee. We’ll talk about some of it with former Iowa Republican Party Chair Steve Grubbs and Scott County Democratic Party Chair Kay Pence.

Nine of the candidates qualified for the debate. But former President Donald Trump decided to be a no-show.

He has become a focal point of the debate at about the halfway point.

BRET BAIER: “If former President Trump is convicted in a court of law, would you still support him as your party’s choice? Please raise your hand if you would [cheers and groans].”

CHRIS CHRISTIE: “Someone’s got to stop normalizing this conduct, ok. Now, and, now whether or not, whether or not you believe the criminal charges are right or wrong, the conduct is beneath the office of President of the United States.”

VIVEK RAMASWAMY: “President Trump I believe was the best president of the 21st century. It’s a fact. And, Chris Christie, honest to god, you’re claim that Donald Trump was motivated by vengeance and grievance would be a lot more credible if you’re entire campaign were not based on vengeance and grievance against one man.”

TIM SCOTT: “We should be asking ourselves a bigger question about the weaponization of the Department of Justice.”

MIKE PENCE: “I think the American people deserve to know whether everyone on this stage agrees that I kept my oath to The Constitution that day. There’s no more important duty so answer the question. [RON DESANTIS: I’ve answered this before. Why are we? Mike did his duty. I got no beef with him.”

NIKKI HALEY: “When it comes to whether President Trump should serve or not, I trust the American people. Let them vote. Let them decide. But, what they will tell you is that it is time for a new generational conservative leader. We have to look at the fact that three-quarters of Americans don’t want a rematch between Trump and Biden. And, we have to face the fact that Trump is the most disliked politician in America. We can’t win a general election that way.”

Some of the candidates want to steer the party in a different direction.

Some want to follow the Donald Trump mold.

Host Jim Niedelman asked our panelists who handled the controversy surrounding Donald Trump the best?

“It depends on your what your goal is,” Steve Grubbs said. “I thought Pence really was able to make a really strong case for his upholding the Constitution.”

“I think that they kind of missed the point of the question,” Kay Pence said. “I think it would be difficult to vote for and accept a convicted felon.”

Hear what else our panelists have to say when you click on the video.

Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you.  It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home