Five Republican presidential candidates are set to take the stage at 8 p.m. at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Florida: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Former President Donald Trump, who qualified for the debate, will skip another one as the GOP frontrunner is scheduled to counter-program with a 7 p.m. rally in nearby Hialeah.
NBC News’ Lester Holt and Kristen Welker and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt will moderate what is the third GOP primary debate ahead of the Jan. 15 Iowa Caucus.
All times are Eastern.
Haley and Ramaswamy Don’t Shake Hands
Ms. Haley and Mr. Ramaswamy did not shake hands following the debate, where the two went after one another on issues including foreign policy. The latter went after the former’s daughter, Rena Haley, for having used TikTok, whose parent company, BiteDance, is connected to the Chinese Communist Party.
Candidates Give Closing Statements
The candidates closed the two-hour debate with closing statements expressing hope for the future given the current situation that includes wars in Ukraine and Israel/Gaza.
“We’ve talked a lot about foreign wars tonight. But we’re in the middle of a war right here at home,” said Mr. Ramaswamy. “It’s a war between white or democrat and republican. It’s between those of us who believe in our founding ideals and love this country and a fringe minority who hates the United States of America.”
“The world is on fire. We have a war in Europe. We’ve got a war in the Middle East. We’ve got China on the march,” said Ms. Haley. “It is very important that we know how to defend our freedoms and how to defeat terrorism and socialism. We have to know the difference between good and evil. We have to know the difference between right and wrong.
“We need to know that a strong America doesn’t start wars a strong America prevents wars. And the way we can focus on that is to make sure we go back to the soul of America and be strong and proud again, and we can’t do that. We can’t win the fights of the 21st century with politicians from the 20th century. We have to move forward.”
Mr. DeSantis got the final word.
“We must reverse our country’s decline and that is going to require leadership,” he said. “I will take the hits I will take the arrows I will take the barbs because it’s not about me. It’s about you not about the past. It’s about your future. We are going to fight for you. I am going to win for you and your family. And I’m going to lead this country’s revival.”
Ramaswamy Blasts GOP ‘Culture of Losing’
Mr. Ramaswamy lamented what he called a GOP “culture of losing” elections as was the case on Nov. 7 in states including Virginia and Ohio, where in The Buckeye State a referendum to enshrine into the state constitution the right to an abortion until fetal viability, which is usually 23-24 weeks.
“The Republicans did not have an alternative amendment or vision on the table,” he said.
He also talked about “sexual responsibility for men” when it comes to pregnant women and being there for the kid as to avoid fatherless homes.
DeSantis: Going to Build the Wall ‘Like Donald Trump Promised’
When it comes to border security and fentanyl coming across the southern border, Mr. DeSantis said he would build a wall at the border “like Donald Trump promised” and, when it comes to the cartels, “gonna shoot them stone cold dead.”
Ms. Haley reiterated her pledge to end normal trade relations with China over its role in the fentanyl crisis in the United States. She said that, like Mr. DeSantis, she would use the military to go after the cartels.
Vivek: ‘Sacrificing’ Foreign wars, Gutting Federal Bureaucracy to Pay for Social Security
Mr. Ramaswamy called for “sacrificing” foreign wars and gutting “75 percent” of the federal bureaucracy in order to pay for Social Security. This is despite entitlements — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — being more than two-thirds of the federal budget while defense is 12 percent of it. Meanwhile, Ms. Haley has called for reforming entitlements for future generations and called for limiting Social Security for the wealthy. Mr. Christie called for eliminating Social Security for the wealthy.
Arkansas Governor Endorses Trump
At the rally in nearby Hialeah, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders endorsed Trump ahead of the former president taking the stage.
“We’ve got out-of-control inflation, violent crime, an open border, a rising China. Biden and the Left have failed over and over again, and they know it and you know it, and it is time for a change,” said Ms. Sanders, who was White House press secretary under him. “That is why tonight, I am so proud to endorse my former boss, my friend, and everybody’s favorite president, Donald J. Trump.”
Trump Asks Crowd If He Did ‘the Right Thing’ in Skipping Debate
In usual Trump fashion, the former president and current GOP frontrunner asked the crowd at his rally in nearby Hialeah whether he did “the right thing” in skipping the debate.
The crowd cheered.
Ramaswamy Goes After Haley’s Daughter for Using TikTok
Mr. Ramaswamy cited Ms. Haley’s daughter, Rena Haley, having used TikTok, whose parent company, BiteDance, is connected to the Chinese Communist Party.
“Leave my daughter out of your voice,” Ms. Haley shot back.
“You’re just scum,” she added.
Ms. Haley has said that her daughter no longer uses TikTok.
TikTok ‘Poisoning American Minds’: DeSantis
Mr. DeSantis said that TikTok is “poisoning American minds.”
Haley and DeSantis Go After One Another on China
Unsurprisingly, Ms. Haley went after Mr. DeSantis on China—a continuation of a feud that has been happening for the past several weeks. He said that the Florida governor has yet to echo her pledge to end normal trade relations with Beijing if they do not stop being behind the fentanyl crisis in the United States.
Ms. Haley said that, when it comes to Mr. Ramaswamy, “I am telling you, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and President Xi [Jinping of China] are salivating at the thought that someone like that could become president.”
Mr. DeSantis fired back, noting that in 2016 Ms. Haley recruited a Chinese fiber glass company that was about 10 miles near a military base in South Carolina when she was governor.
Trump Takes the Stage
The former president, who opted to skip the debate as he has done with all the previous two, has taken the stage at a rally in nearby Hialeah, a Hispanic area. The Hispanic population has shown a shift toward the GOP.
Scott and DeSantis: I Would Deport Pro-Hamas Students
The candidates condemned antisemitism on college campuses. But Mr. Ramaswamy seemed to say that federal action over colleges and universities tolerating antisemitism would be censorship. Mr. Scott and Mr. DeSantis said they would deport pro-Hamas students in the United States on student visas.
Ms. Haley said that far-left antisemitism is essentially no different than the KKK.
Question Two: Israel-Hamas War; Vivek Calls Haley “Dick Cheney in Three-Inch heels”
Mr. Holt asked the candidates what their message would be for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The candidates said they would tell him to annihilate Hamas.
Mr. Ramaswamy blasted Ms. Haley for her hawkish position and went ask far as to call her “Dick Cheney in three-inch heels.” This is in reference to the former vice president who was a military hawk.
Ms. Haley responded that she wears “five-inch heels” and that “I don’t wear them unless you can run in them.” She said she wears heels not for a fashion statement, rather “for ammunition.”
First Question: Trump, But Vivek Turns Table on Hosts
Mr. Holt ask candidates why they, not Mr. Trump, should be the nominee given his popularity in the GOP.
He asked Mr. DeSantis first.
“We need leadership. And we need it now. I’ll take the hits. I’ll take the arrows I’ll take the slings because ultimately, it’s not about me,” said Mr. DeSantis. “It’s about you. I will fight for you. I will make sure to lead this country’s revival and I will win for you and your family actions speak louder than words. We don’t have time for excuses. And it’s not something that we’re going to be able to have all these distractions.”
“I’m sick of Republicans losing,” he added.
Ms. Haley answered with the current state of the economy and antisemitism on college campuses amid Israel coming under attack by Hamas. She reiterated her talking points that President Trump “right president at the right time,” but is not now due to his foreign policy views and adding $8 trillion to the national debt, which is now at more than $34 trillion.
Mr. Ramaswamy blasted Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel for overseeing loses in 2018, 2020, 2022 and on Nov. 8. He said he is “sick of Republicans losing.”
He called out the left-wing bias of NBC News.
“We need accountability,” he said, warning the left-wing media would “rig” the 2024 election.
Mr. Christie cited the Israel-Hamas war, Ukraine, inflation, and other pressing issues.
Mr. Scott cited a need for the GOP to win independent and even black voters. He called for a restoration of Judeo-Christian values.
Candidates Take the Stage
The five candidates have taken the stage. The debate is two hours.
What to Watch Out For Tonight
This debate is expected to cover numerous topics with the biggest ones being the Hamas-Israel conflict, abortion, and President Trump and his legal troubles.
The debate comes a day after the GOP had an overall bad night in the Nov. 7 elections in multiple states including Virginia, where the GOP lost control of the House of Delegates and failed to take back the state senate.
Additionally, look for Mr. Christie to continue to fire shots at his rivals, especially President Trump, whom he called in the last debate on Sept. 27 “Donald Duck.” The issue of race could come up along with whether Mr. Scott is looking to be the GOP nominee’s vice presidential pick.
Finally, Ms. Haley has seen a rise in the polls and could cement herself as the GOP alternative to President Trump if she has a standout performance. Her steady rise has been attributed to her performances in the first and second debates.
Read more here.
Nathan Worcester contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times