Consolidation was the big winner in Wednesday’s GOP primary debate held in Miami. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley showed why they lead the polls by launching a scathing attack on Donald Trump, the frontrunner who was absent.
Donald Trump is not in the picture. He should be on the stage tonight. DeSantis’ first response was that “He owes you to defend his records”, posing questions to Trump, and attacking him more aggressively in previous debates.
Haley’s tone towards Trump was a little softer. “He was the perfect president at the right moment.” She said, “I don’t believe he is the right president at this time.”
Haley was once again in a heated argument with Vivek, who called her “Dick Cheney wearing 3-inch heels.”
Haley replied, “I would like to first say that they are 5-inch heels and I do not wear them unless one can run in them.”
They also sparred when Ramaswamy brought Haley’s daughter, who is now an adult, into a TikTok discussion. Ramaswamy accused Haley of hypocrisy for preaching the dangers associated with the Chinese social media application.
She said “Leave out my daughter from your voice” before adding, “You are just scum.”
She reserved her most substantive attacks against DeSantis. DeSantis was accused by the senator of leading an “economic development agency that, as recently as last week, said Florida was the ideal place for Chinese business.”
DeSantis responded that he had “abolished this agency.”
Haley told DeSantis that if he is a “liberal” on the environment, he should “own it.”
“We will frack but I disagree Nikki Haley.” DeSantis responded, “I don’t believe it’s a great idea to drill in Florida Everglades and I know that most Floridians are with me.”
You’ll note that I didn’t mention Chris Christie or Senator Tim Scott. There’s a good reason.
Ramaswamy’s gadfly-style routine is causing his unfavorable ratings to rise daily. But nothing else has shattered what looked like an almost head-to-head battle between the two candidates with the best chances of challenging Trump.
Haley and DeSantis are still fighting it out to be the second-place candidate, as Christie and Scott continue to fall. On Wednesday, their rhetoric was in line with the polls. Christie claimed to be a unifier and truth-teller. Haley and Christie both took on the issue of entitlements and adjusted the retirement age to differentiate themselves from Trump.
Scott used his life story once again, but this isn’t what makes headlines. The next debate would be better if Haley, DeSantis, and Trump were all removed.