'SNL' parodies GOP debate in cold open

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The latest episode of “Saturday Night Live” mocked last week’s GOP presidential primary in the cold open and brought the focus to former President Trump, who was notably absent from the debate but heavily discussed among the candidates.

Playing NBC News anchor Lester Holt, who co-moderated last week’s debate, Keenan Thompson kicked off the cold open, calling the event the “Republican kids table debate.”

The actors playing the five candidates each introduced themselves with parodies of each presidential hopeful, including the smile of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, played by John Higgins, the frequent talking of biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, played by Ego Nwodim, and former U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley’s excitement to “look good in comparison, with Haley played by Heidi Gardner.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, played by Molly Kearney, said his wife said he “could try this one more time,” while Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), played by Devon Walker, looked surprised when they said his name, asking, “Oh, is that me?”

The first question was to the fake Ramaswamy, who told Holt, “I’d like to begin by not answering your question and instead use this platform to say her daughter is on TikTok.”

“Keep my daughter’s name out of your voice,” Gardner’s Haley quickly responded, a reference to one of the most heated moments of last week’s debate where Haley called Ramaswamy “scum” after mentioning her daughter’s use of TikTok.

Within the first two minutes of the debate, Trump, played by James Austin Johnson, took center stage as the five GOP rivals remained frozen in the background, a nod to Trump’s continued strong lead in the poll.

While on center stage, Johnson asked the audience if they could believe Trump’s strong lead despite his ongoing legal battles. Trump faces criminal charges over alleged hush-money payments in New York, mishandling classified documents in Florida and election interference cases in Washington, D.C., and Georgia.

“Can you believe it, folks? Ninety-one indictments, four trials and I am still the best choice. They are all stuck behind me and there is nothing they can do about it, just like in real life,” the fake Trump said, pointing to poll numbers.

Johnson’s Trump then took aim at Ramaswamy, claiming he “checks a lot of boxes” and is “rich” and “rude,” before turning to Haley, whom he said he calls “birdbrain, but only in public,” and made some “terrible points” in the debate.

Last month, Trump called Haley “birdbrain” while taking aim at Haley’s previous praise of the former president, which switched to criticism in his presidential campaign.

The fake Trump also dug into Christie, arguing he is “pretty easy” to forget and Scott and his apparent girlfriend, claiming there isn’t any chemistry between the two.

Trump has continued to surge far ahead of his rivals in the polls, with many arguing the GOP presidential primary is essentially serving as a race for Trump’s vice president in 2024.

Johnson nodded to this while finishing up the cold open, telling the audience, ““Anyway, I’ll probably pick one of these lucky five to be my VP — or in many ways, I will not at all.”

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