Candidates at Debate Make Case: Why Are They Better Than Trump?

T.J. Muscaro
By T.J. Muscaro
November 9, 20232024 Elections
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Candidates at Debate Make Case: Why Are They Better Than Trump?
(L–R) Former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, former Governor from South Carolina and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) attend the third Republican presidential primary debate at the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Fla., on Nov. 8, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidates opened their third debate by making their case for why they were a better option than former President Donald Trump.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) took the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County on Nov. 8.

Meanwhile, President Trump, who holds more than a 40-point lead in the polls, opted to hold his own event in nearby Hialeah.

Ron DeSantis: ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words’

Mr. DeSantis, given the first opportunity to answer the question, focused on President Trump’s current status and record compared with his own.

“If you look where we are now, it’s a lot different than we were in 2016, and Donald Trump’s a lot different guy than he was in 2016,” he said. “He owes it to you to be on this stage and explain why he should get another chance. He should explain why he didn’t have Mexico pay for the border wall. He should explain why he racked up so much debt. He should explain why he didn’t drain the swamp. And he said Republicans were getting tired of winning? When we saw [what happened] last night?

“I’m sick of Republicans losing in Florida. I showed how it was done one year ago here.”

On the campaign trail, Mr. DeSantis has continued to share his plan to make Mexico pay for a border wall, as well as tout his team’s ability to pay down debt and deliver Republican victories like flipping Miami-Dade County in decisive fashion during his reelection run in 2021.

“Actions speak louder than words,” he said. “We don’t have time for excuses. And it’s not something that we’re going to be able to have all these distractions. As a veteran, I will get the job done.”

Nikki Haley: ‘We Need an Accountant’

Ms. Haley immediately targeted the financial issues in the country.

“I can talk about President Trump,” she said. “I can tell you that I think he was the right president at the right time. I don’t think he’s the right president now. I think that he put us $8 trillion in debt, and our kids are never going to forgive us for that.”

She pointed to the nation’s $34 trillion debt, saying that 60 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, one in six American families can’t pay utility bills, and 50 percent of families can’t afford diapers.

“We’ve got to start focusing on what’s going to make America strong and proud,” Ms. Haley said. “And that’s what I’m focused on doing. Let’s make sure we pay down our debt. I think we need an accountant in the White House.”

She also touched on what she sees as a need for transparency and safety in the nation.

“You have parents who are worried about what’s being said or taught to their child in the classroom,” Ms. Haley said. “There’s no transparency. We have antisemitism all over our college campuses, and students feel unsafe. You’ve got an open border where terrorists can come through, and we’ve got wars happening all over us, and they’re dangerous around us.”

“Let’s make sure that we have transparency in the classroom,” she said. “As a mom, I know what that means.”

Vivek Ramaswamy: ‘We Need Accountability in Our Party’

Mr. Ramaswamy used his opening statement to address what he sees as a problem with the entire Republican establishment, saying that the Republican Party had become “a party of losers” and demanding Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel take the stage and resign.

He then turned his attention to NBC moderators Lester Holt and Kristen Welker, drawing a connection from the network to the party’s losing track record.

“Think about who’s moderating this debate,” he said. “This should be Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk. We’d have ten times the viewership asking questions that GOP primary voters actually care about, bringing more people into our party… Do you think the Democrats would actually hire Greg Gutfeld for the Democratic debate? They wouldn’t do it.”

He looked at the three moderators, who included conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt of the Salem Radio Network, and asked, “The Trump-Russia collusion hoax that you pushed on this network for years. Was that real? Or was that Hillary Clinton made up disinformation? Answer the question. Go!”

He also accused what he called “the corrupt media establishment” of rigging the 2016 election, and the 2020 election. The moderators did not answer.

Chris Christie: ‘The One to Tackle the Big Issues’

Mr. Christie spent his time focusing on international issues, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, and inflation, which he said is “choking every American family that wants to try to rise up and give their children a better life.”

“We need to decide which president is going to be the one to tackle the big issues,” he said. “Who’s gonna make this country look once again, not just inward, but look outward at the world and say America is the country, the indispensable nation that makes this a safer world?

“And in a safer world, American innovation, American hard work, has always been the thing that has driven our country to a greater phase. I’m going to be the president who will do those big things.”

The former New Jersey governor also touched on President Trump’s ongoing court cases.

“I’ll say this about Donald Trump,” he said. “Anybody who’s going to be spending the next year and a half of their life, focusing on keeping themselves out of jail in courtrooms cannot lead this party or this country. It needs to be said plainly.”

Tim Scott: ‘Restoring Faith’

Lastly, Sen. Tim Scott reaffirmed his belief that President Trump could not win the election and made his case for why his faith-led campaign makes him the better option.

“We need a president and a candidate who will actually help our base solidify and attract independent voters into our party,” he said. “The ‘great opportunity party’ is now winning back African-American voters and Hispanic voters because we are working on a foundation based on faith.”

Mr. Scott highlighted the Bible references made in President Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on the hill” quote and President Abraham Lincoln’s “a house divided” quote, both of which have been used by the candidates.

“You don’t have to be a Christian for America to work for you,” he said. “But America does not work without a faith-filled Judeo-Christian foundation. I would be the president that helps us restore faith in God, faith in each other, and faith in the future.”

According to the latest primary poll numbers from FiveThirtyEight, President Trump is leading with 56.5 percent. Mr. DeSantis is second with 13.9 percent, followed by Ms. Haley at 5.2 percent and Mr. Ramaswamy at 5.2 percent. Mr. Christie has 2.9 percent and Mr. Scott 2.2 percent.

From The Epoch Times

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