The fourth Republican primary debate got off to a blistering start on Wednesday with Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy launching a verbal onslaught against Nikki Haley as the former UN Ambassador rises in the polls.
Haley, the only woman on stage and in the Republican presidential primary, didn’t back down, quipping: ‘I love the attention fellas.’
Haley, Ron DeSantis, Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took stage at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday evening to stake their claim in the race to catch up with frontrunner Donald Trump.
Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly returned as a debate moderator eight years after her infamous 2015 confrontation with Trump when she challenged him on ‘misogynist’ comments.
DeSantis used his first remarks of the night to accuse Haley of supporting ‘child mutilation’ with past comments not condemning sex change surgeries for minors.
And Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old millionaire biotech entrepreneur, said Haley left South Carolina ‘bankrupt’ after her stint as governor and sold out to corporations in order to rise to millionaire status – including by serving on the board of Boeing.
‘We weren’t bankrupt when I left the UN. We’re people of service – my husband is in the military and I served our country as U.N. ambassador and governor,’ Haley shot back. ‘It may be bankrupt to him, but it certainly wasn’t bankrupt to us.’
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley , Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis , former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy took stage at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday evening
Moderators are former Fox News anchor and current SiriusXM host Megyn Kelly (center), NewsNation’s Elizabeth Vargas (right) and Washington Free Beacon Editor-in-Chief Eliana Johnson (left)
But Haley said the bigger issue is that her competitors on stage are ‘jealous’ because they want the donors who are backing her candidacy to pump their money into their campaigns.
‘In terms of these donors that are supporting me, they’re just jealous,’ Haley said. ‘They wish that they were supporting them.’
Gov. Christie didn’t get a chance to speak until 17 minutes into the debate as DeSantis, Haley and Ramaswamy bickered.
The debate proved to be the most tense yet with the smallest number of candidates qualifying under the most strict thresholds so far as the heat turns up between those vying for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Before the first commercial break, Christie called Ramaswamy the most obnoxious blowhard in America and he responded by telling the former governor to ‘walk yourself off this stage, have yourself a nice meal.’
The debate is set to be the most tense yet with the smallest number of candidates qualifying under the most strict thresholds so far as the heat turns up between those vying for the 2024 Republican nomination.
But none of the four on stage are likely to actually clinch the nomination, with former President Donald Trump still far leading the pack in polling and popularity.
Despite this, a new Morning Consult poll shows nearly two-thirds of potential Republican primary voters plan to watch at least part of the debate.
Just 25 percent said they wouldn’t tune into the debate at all.
Donald Trump, who is up by 50 points in some polls, is again skipping the event.
So far, the ex-president’s no-shows haven’t put a dent in his lead, though more than 75 percent of GOP voters stake some importance on the debates.
On the day of the debate, Alabama Sen. Katie Britt leveled her endorsement for the ex-president.
NewsNation is hosting the fourth debate on December 6 at the University of Alabama’s Frank Moody Music Building in Tuscaloosa for the first debate ever held in the deep red state of Alabama.
Moderators are former Fox News anchor and current SiriusXM host Megyn Kelly, NewsNation’s Elizabeth Vargas and Washington Free Beacon Editor-in-Chief Eliana Johnson.
Haley, DeSantis and Ramaswamy all bickered for the first 17 minutes before Christie cut in
When he did get a chance to speak, Christie said they need to be going after Trump and not each other, but then called Ramaswamy ‘the most obnoxious blowhard in America’
To make the stage, candidates faced their largest uphill battle yet, with Gov. Christie nearly missing out.
Candidates were required to amass 80,000 donors, with at least 200 donors each from 20 different states or territories.
Each contender also had to receive 6 percent support in two different national polls. Alternatively, they could earn 6 percent in one national poll and 6 percent in two separate state-wide polls in an early primary contest state – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who failed to qualify for the third and fourth debate, announced Monday he was suspending his campaign.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott dropped out just days after participating in the third debate in Miami, Florida, in early November.
Between the second and third debates, former Vice President Mike Pence also ended his run.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson only qualified for the first debate, but has not put an end to his candidacy.
Meanwhile, Dallas-area businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley has not made the stage once, but is still holding onto his bid.
Trump has far exceeded the qualifications to debate for every event, but has refused to show up.
The ex-president says that the debates are beneath him considering the massive polling lead he holds above the rest of the field.
He also won’t sign an RNC pledge to support the eventual 2024 GOP nominee, which candidates are required to agree to in order to take the stage.
Trump has spent all the debates so far running his own events.
Wednesday’s debate took place at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa – it is the first debate of the 2024 primary election cycle to be held on a college campus
For the first debate, he sat-down with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson for a wide-ranging interview that began airing just five minutes before eight of his competitors took the stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In September for the second debate, Trump was in Wisconsin speaking to auto workers picketing for better pay, hours and benefits while seven others were in Simi Valley, California debating at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
The latest in Miami, Florida last month saw Trump holding a rally just 15 minutes down the road the night of the debate.