Elections

DeSantis, Haley, Christie, Ramaswany trade insults in fourth 2024 Republican debate

Four Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates accused each oth­er of being “cor­rupt”, of fas­cism, and lying tonight in a cat fight style pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry debate staged at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alaba­ma and tele­vised by NewsNation.

The can­di­dates tore into each oth­er but the big orange cheese — Don­ald Trump— once again was miss­ing. Three treat­ed him gingerly.

Only ex-New Jer­sey Gov­er­nor Chris Christie took on Trump head on.

“This is the prob­lem with my three col­leagues,” said Christie, “they’re afraid to offend. And if you’re afraid to offend Don­ald Trump, then what are you going to do when you sit across from Pres­i­dent Xi?”

View­ers learned bizarre things dur­ing the debate.

Which past pres­i­dent would be a mod­el for your admin­is­tra­tion, they were asked?

Calvin Coolidge, replied Gov­er­nor Ron DeSan­tis of Flori­da. “Silent Cal knew the role of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment,” he said of the pre-Great Depres­sion president.

Can­di­date Vivek Ramaswany sees “deep state” foot­prints in the Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021, insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capi­tol. “Why am I the only per­son on this stage, at least, that Jan­u­ary 6th is now look­ing like an inside job?”

Issues dear to Repub­li­cans were debated.

While abor­tion rights have topped the country’s women’s agen­da, ex-South Car­oli­na Gov­er­nor Nik­ki Haley had a dif­fer­ent take.

“I said bio­log­i­cal boys shouldn’t be play­ing in girls’ sports and I will do every­thing that I can to stop that because this is the women’s issue of our time,” said Haley.

The debate was thrice inter­rupt­ed with com­mer­cial breaks, includ­ing ads for ByteDance-owned Tik­Tok. Toward the end, how­ev­er, Haley declared: “We real­ly do need to ban Tik­Tok once and for all.”

DeSan­tis danced around the Trump question.

He argued that the sev­en­ty-six-year old is too old to reclaim the White House, that Trump did not deliv­er on depor­ta­tions. “He deport­ed less than Barack Oba­ma when he was pres­i­dent,” said the Flori­da gov­er­nor, who recent­ly sparred with Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som in a Fox prime­time special.

Nik­ki Haley has been gain­ing in the polls and was much picked on.

DeSan­tis even tried to link her to Xi’s Chi­na for the sin of spend­ing a year on Boeing’s board of direc­tors. “I love Boe­ing: They build very good air­planes,” she shot back. (Boe­ing has an assem­bly plant in South Car­oli­na, where the 787 Dream­lin­er is put togeth­er with non-union labor.)

But insults were the order of the day. Trump is a “dic­ta­tor,” a “bul­ly” and late­ly “unhinged” said Christie. He described Ramaswamy as “the biggest blowhard in Amer­i­ca”. Ramaswamy called Haley “cor­rupt” and a “fas­cist.”

There were dis­tor­tions, notably from DeSan­tis, who is depict­ing him­self as an adver­sary of Big Tech and has picked high pro­file fights with Disney.

“Nik­ki Haley said the oth­er day there should be no lim­its on legal immi­gra­tion and that cor­po­rate CEO’s should set pol­i­cy on that,” charged DeSantis.

DeSan­tis is the most script­ed of the can­di­dates, often repeat­ing the line that if he’s elect­ed, “There’ll be a new sher­iff in town.”

He came across as about as dour and humor­less as Calvin Coolidge.

As the four rivals were squab­bling on stage, the Trump cam­paign was unveil­ing a new tele­vi­sion spot, and sit­ting on a forty point lead in the polls.

Joel Connelly

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