12:36 am ET, December 7, 2023
Highlights from the 4th GOP Presidential Debate
From CNN’s Eric Bradner, Steve Contorno, Arid John and Daniel Strauss
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
As the fireworks returned Four Republican candidates It is vying to emerge as the party’s top alternative Donald Trump The 2024 presidential election was held on Wednesday night For their fourth debate.
Amid the smallest debate field ever and facing mounting pressure with Iowa’s caucuses Less than six weeks away, candidates were able to express their policy beliefs and explore key differences. There were also a series of memorable individual scenes.
Their showdown in Alabama, covered by NewsNation, is where all the candidates on stage hope to first be seen as the GOP’s only alternative before making a more focused case against the former president.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waited 30 seconds for his first response, when he took aim at Haley and dragged her into the controversy over which bathroom transgender people should use. In his first response, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy picked up where he left off in the third debate, saying Halle once worked for the Boeing Group, which has a major manufacturing facility in the state he once ruled.
At several points, DeSantis and Ramaswamy have combined to heap criticism, zeroing in on his late support from some. Donors like LinkedIn co-founder Reid HoffmanA Democratic donor sent $250,000 to a super PAC in his favor, and interest from the likes of BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.
Haley also received recently Backed by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, said he would welcome help wherever it came from but would not let it dictate his policies. He also said that if his competitors give money, they will also receive it.
“They’re jealous,” Haley said. “They want them to support them.”
“Who Shall Not Be Named”: After watching his three rivals battle it out for the first 17 minutes of the debate, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried to reframe the debate with a reminder: Trump currently leads them all in the polls.
“I’ve got these three guys competing with Voldemort — ‘He who shall not be named,'” Christie said, referring to the villain in the Harry Potter series whose name the characters avoid saying. “They don’t want to talk about it.”
Christie suggested that other candidates are avoiding taking on Trump directly because they don’t like their own chances of becoming his vice presidential nominee or their 2028 presidential chances.
Touting the state of the GOP primary race may be a reaction to Christie’s comments. The questions posed to his rivals in the opening moments of the debate resulted in heated, and sometimes personal, back-and-forth exchanges. Christie’s comments were met with silence by his rivals.
Christie gets her groove back: For months, Christie has struggled to recreate the magic of the 2016 presidential primary debate season, when he defeated Florida Sen. Marco distracted Rubio by repeating a debate. While Christie didn’t get very far in that primary, Rubio struggled to overcome the perception that he was a robot.
In Tuscaloosa, the former New Jersey governor sought to portray his opponents as immature, irritable and unprepared for the job. That may not have helped him win the nomination, but it hasn’t made it any easier for other departments — especially DeSantis and Ramasamy.
Christie tried to portray DeSantis as unwilling to answer basic questions. When DeSantis was asked if, as president, he would send U.S. troops to Gaza to rescue American hostages held by Hamas, Christie jumped in.
“When you’re the president of the United States, you don’t get to choose whether or not to answer that question,” he said.
Later in the debate, DeSantis was asked if he thought Trump was qualified for the position. He replied, “Father’s time is not defeated.” Christie doubled down.