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Haley Under Attack, Christie Against Trump and DeSantis' Evasions: The Summary of the Fourth Republican Debate

2023-12-07T13:37:55.965Z

Highlights: Haley Under Attack, Christie Against Trump and DeSantis' Evasions: The Summary of the Fourth Republican Debate. Four contenders for the Republican presidential nomination faced harsh attacks in the fourth meeting. But they are still in the shadow of former President Donald Trump, who is absent again and leads them by wide margins in the polls. The list of candidates has shrunk, and time before votes are cast is running out, so the four candidates face off as if their political lives were at stake.


Four contenders for the Republican presidential nomination faced harsh attacks in the fourth meeting, but they are still in the shadow of former President Donald Trump, who is absent again and leads them by wide margins in the polls.


By Jonathan Allen - NBC News

The Republican presidential candidates faced off as if their political lives were at stake in the party's fourth debate on Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The list of candidates has shrunk, and time before votes are cast is running out, so the four candidates who participated in the debate — Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie — are still in the shadow of former President Donald Trump, who leads them by wide margins in the polls.

Candidates Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Dec. 6, 2023. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

And although Trump did not participate in the event, his figure was present throughout the night. DeSantis and Haley, who are within striking distance of each other in national polls and some state polls, struggled to gain an edge in the fight for second place.

With just over a month to go before the Iowa caucuses, and with the possibility that this will be the last debate of the primaries, the candidates attacked each other intensely.

[All set for fourth GOP debate: DeSantis, Haley, Christie and Ramaswamy seek to be the option against Trump]

These are the conclusions of the fourth Republican debate.

Haley performed well

Haley, who has received support from Americans for Prosperity, a network linked to Charles Koch, absorbed the broadsides of DeSantis and Ramaswamy. In some cases, she also countered.

She was attacked for accepting money from Wall Street donors and, specifically, from Reid Hoffman, a former Democratic contributor who this week donated $250,000 to a super PAC that supports her.

Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"Nikki will give in to those big donors when necessary," said DeSantis, who — between his campaign and two super PACs — has been the best-funded candidate in the race. He also attacked her for saying that internet users should be verified by name, and claimed that, as governor of South Carolina, she was the "No. 1" chief executive when it came to attracting Chinese investment to her state.

He even opened the debate with a critique of Haley. "It gives in every time the left goes after it, every time the media goes after it," the Florida governor said.

[Four presidential hopefuls vie for second place in the fourth Republican debate]

Ramaswamy echoed some of those attacks, but also reiterated his accusation that Haley is too tough on national security, calling her "more fascist" than President Joe Biden's administration, which Republicans often portray as heavily left-leaning.

It will be some time before the effectiveness of those attacks can be measured, but they made it clear that both DeSantis and Ramaswamy see Haley as a major threat to their campaigns.

Haley rebutted each of the criticisms, saying they are "jealous" of their new donors. "They want to be supported."

"Licking Donald Trump's Boots"

Fear of Trump is a real factor in the race.

No one has figured out how to cut into his lead, and few of the current or former candidates have dared to try to do so by attacking him. The truth is that he remains popular with the GOP primary electorate and enjoys the affection of the party's hardcore base.

However, Christie and Ramaswamy tried to position themselves as the least sycophantic of the candidates.

[This week's Republican debate comes down to four candidates]

"I'm in this campaign because you have to tell the truth" about Trump, said Christie, who for years advised the former president but is now one of his fiercest critics. "There's no bigger problem in this campaign than Donald Trump."

DeSantis responds to Christie that he disagrees with parents deciding on their children's health. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Ramaswamy, who prepared to attack his rivals, highlighted Christie's work as an adviser to Trump, Haley's position as the former president's ambassador to the U.N. and DeSantis' trust in Trump during his first gubernatorial election.

"All three of them have been licking Donald Trump's boots for years," he said.

It was telling that, instead of confronting Trump, these candidates chose to accuse each other of being too close to the former president.

DeSantis avoided answering questions

DeSantis, who has become more nimble in debating over the course of the campaign, easily and repeatedly sidestepped direct questions.

Would you send U.S. troops to the Gaza Strip to protect the hostages? He didn't say it. How can he reconcile his proposal to shoot suspected drug traffickers when they cross the U.S.-Mexico border with the law? It's not very clear.

Christie called his attention to her dancing.

"Ron gets asked a question and he doesn't answer it," the former New Jersey governor said. "When you're the president of the United States, you'll have the choice to answer that question or not... You can't give a 90-second speech about your military service," he alleged.

Ron DeSantis.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

DeSantis' maneuvers may not have convinced Christie — and perhaps disheartened some GOP voters by his evasive maneuvers — but they show that he is committed to the message he wants to communicate.

He proved a bit redundant at times, twice warning people to "buckle up" and that "there was a new sheriff in town," for example, but he never seemed to lose his balance as he tiptoed over questions.

Ramaswamy gets sensationalist and Christie defends Haley

Ramaswamy has seen interest in his campaign wane since the previous debates and has increasingly resorted to jokes and tricks to get attention.

At one point, he accused Haley of not knowing the names of three provinces on the Russia-Ukraine border: "She has no idea what the names of those provinces are."

Haley did not name them. These are Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv.

Afterward, Ramaswamy pulled out a notebook and put it in front of the camera to underscore the point that he believes she is indebted to donors and people who have paid her for her consultancies and speeches.

Ramaswamy during one of his attacks on Haley, at the Dec. 6, 2023, debate. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

"Nikki = corrupt," she wrote in the notebook.

Whether voters praise him or punish him for his games, Christie lashed out at him harshly.

In any of the debates, Christie said, "in the first 20 minutes you would have been voted the most unbearable arrogant in America."

In an unusual move for an otherwise acrimonious debate, Christie later came directly to Haley's defense by criticizing Ramaswamy.

"He has insulted Nikki Haley's basic intelligence," Christie said before addressing Ramaswamy directly. "This is an intelligent, accomplished woman. You should stop insulting her."

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-12-07

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