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Republican debate : Haley and DeSantis exchange barbs in fight for second place

Republican debate
Republican debate

The recent Republican presidential debate wrapped up with intense exchanges between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis. However, it seems unlikely that either has significantly closed in on frontrunner Donald Trump ahead of the Iowa caucus next week.

DeSantis criticized Haley for what he perceived as running to fulfill her donors’ wishes, while the former UN ambassador fired back, accusing DeSantis of being a habitual liar. This Iowa debate, unlike previous ones, wasn’t orchestrated by the Republican National Committee (RNC), which chose not to host debates for the rest of the primary season.

True to form, Trump skipped the debate, opting for a town hall hosted by Fox News in Iowa. Chris Christie, a vocal critic of Trump among Republican contenders, dropped out, leaving Haley, DeSantis, Trump, and Vivek Ramaswamy vying for the Republican nomination.

Despite sharing some common ground on economic and immigration issues, DeSantis and Haley clashed over foreign policy, with DeSantis portraying Haley as weak on China and questioning her conservative record. Both candidates emphasized their opposition to increased immigration, advocating for stricter measures against so-called “sanctuary cities” and illegal immigration.

The debate covered various topics, including the economy, pandemic-era spending bills, and alleged IRS bias against Republicans. Both candidates condemned such spending, with DeSantis claiming the IRS had been weaponized against Republicans.

DeSantis and Haley also sparred on their stances regarding Ukraine and Israel. DeSantis, aligning with the pro-Trump faction, criticized aid to Ukraine, labeling it a “UN way of thinking,” while Haley supported continued military aid. On Israel, both candidates took a hawkish stance, emphasizing the importance of supporting the country.

In Trump’s absence on stage, questions arose about his role in challenging the 2020 election results. Haley acknowledged discrepancies but condemned the Capitol riot on January 6, stating that Trump would have to answer for his role.

DeSantis, who invested heavily in Iowa with a rigorous campaign strategy, expressed exhaustion but affirmed that the experience would make him a better president. Meanwhile, Haley, endorsed by the influential Americans for Prosperity, could potentially gain traction in Iowa.

As the caucus approaches, polls indicate Trump maintaining a strong lead, making the race for second place crucial between DeSantis and Haley. If DeSantis fails to make significant headway, his campaign, plagued by gaffes and staffing issues, may face closure before the next primary.

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