In the third Republican debate held in Miami, five presidential candidates took the stage, with one notable absence – Donald Trump, and discussed issues such as the Israel-Hamas war and abortion rights and hit each other on various issues.
Discussion centered on Trump
Although Trump was not in attendance, his presence loomed large throughout the event, shaping the debate and framing the candidates’ responses.
The first question asked of the candidates revolved around why voters should choose them over Donald Trump, underscoring the former president’s continued influence in the race.
Gov. Ron DeSandis criticized Trump for not keeping campaign promises, citing recent Democratic wins as evidence of Republican losses.
De Sandys said Trump was “a very different guy from 2016” and had not explained what he said were broken campaign promises.
He then referred to Tuesday night’s election, which saw some major wins for Democrats. “Donald Trump said we would get tired of winning,” Mr. DeSantis said. “I’m sick of Republicans losing.”
Nikki Haley, a former U.N. ambassador, took a tactful stance, acknowledging Trump’s past relevance but suggesting he might not be the right candidate for the present. Chris Christie pointed to Trump’s ongoing legal challenges, arguing that he should not be the candidate dealing with legal issues.
However, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy did not mention the former president in their response.
Common ground for the Israel-Hamas war
While Trump’s influence dominated the debate, the candidates found common ground on the issue of Israel. Each candidate expressed support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas, with some calling for a strong response against the Palestinian militant group. This unity in foreign policy showed a common stance in the Republican field.
However, the debate took a heated turn when Nikki Haley became the focus of the attacks. Vivek Ramaswamy criticized her foreign policy approach, calling her “the sharpest of war hawks”. The conflict escalated, with Haley defending her position and dismissing Ramaswamy’s criticisms as baseless.
Abortion remains a divisive issue
The divisions between the candidates became more apparent on abortion. With the Supreme Court striking down the nationwide right to abortion, Republicans have faced challenges in navigating the issue.
While Haley emphasized the need for consensus within the party, Tim Scott supported a 15-week national limit on abortions, a proposal that garnered little support from the other candidates.
The debate underscored the ongoing struggle among Republican candidates to consolidate the non-Trump vote. As Trump maintains a sizable lead, the candidates battled over their policy differences and tried to stand out in the crowded field.
In conclusion, the third Republican debate in Miami showcased Donald Trump’s lasting influence on the party and the challenges facing candidates trying to carve out their own identities.
Divisions on key issues such as foreign policy and abortion underscored the internal dynamics playing out in the Republican field as the race heated up to the primaries.
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