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Ramaswamy raises $450,000 in first hours after Republican debate as campaigns try to seize momentum

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy talks with Sean Hannity in the spin room after a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by FOX News Channel Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The first Republican presidential debate provided an opportunity for candidates to make their cases directly to a national audience, and some of that attention is translating into fundraising boosts.

Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has taken in $450,000 since Wednesday night's debate, with an average donation of $38, campaign spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Ramaswamy, a political newcomer who occupied center stage in the absence of current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, scored several memorable moments during the debate, criticizing some rivals as “super PAC puppets” who were using “ready-made, preprepared slogans” to attack him.

Ramaswamy, has largely been self-funding his campaign and raised more than $7.7 million in the second quarter, finishing with more than $9 million on hand.

At least one candidate, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, made a direct fundraising appeal onstage Milwaukee, asking viewers in his closing remarks to go to his campaign website “for more information or to make a contribution.”

Former President Donald Trump, who is the early front-runner for the nomination, skipped the debate.

Other campaigns didn't immediately respond to messages Thursday about their post-debate fundraising, but some donors are talking.

After being briefed in Milwaukee by top campaign staffers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, donor Hal Lambert said he was pleased with his chosen candidate's performance.

“Everyone’s extremely happy,” Lambert said in an interview. “I think he did extremely well. I think he stayed out of the bickering on stage."

Pete Snyder, an investor and DeSantis donor, said the governor was “strong,” and “forceful” and able to get his message out “without distraction.”

The DeSantis campaign has not provided details about what it has raised, but Snyder said, “It’s showing with the contributions that are coming in. We had a huge day.”

A handful of candidates had gotten creative in their fundraising appeals in order to meet the Republican National Committee's 40,000 minimum unique donor requirement for debate participants. Some of the ploys worked, such as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's giveaway of $20 “Biden Relief Cards" in exchange for donations as low as $1.

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Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP