Republican debate: DeSantis and Ramaswamy attack Haley, as Christie focuses on Trump

The former president and frontrunner for the 2024 nomination again did not participate.

From left, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy
From left, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy take part in the Republican presidential primary debate in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday night. (Gerald Herbert/AP)
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The fourth Republican presidential primary debate wrapped up Wednesday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where four GOP candidates — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — took part in one of the last opportunities to make their case to voters before next month’s Iowa caucuses.

Former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, again did not take part in the primetime debate, which was hosted by the cable news channel NewsNation and co-moderated by Megyn Kelly.

Live coverage is over
  • David Knowles

    'Which former president would you draw inspiration from?'

    Calvin Coolidge, a.k.a Ron DeSantis's most inspiring president. (National Photo Company Collection via Getty Images)

    Asked to name the U.S. president who they would draw inspiration from if elected, the four candidates on stage offered four different names.

    • Chris Christie: Ronald Reagan

    • Nikki Haley: George Washington

    • Ron DeSantis: Calvin Coolidge

    • Vivek Ramaswamy: Thomas Jefferson

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, online searches for "Coolidge" spiked following the Florida governor's response.

  • Caitlin Dickson

    'If this had been the KKK that was doing protests on those campuses, every one of those college presidents would have been up in arms.'

    Nikki Haley, addressing the recent congressional testimony of university presidents, all of whom declined to directly state whether students should be disciplined for calling for the genocide of Jews while protesting the Israel-Hamas war on campus

  • Kate Murphy

    Haley attacked by Ramaswamy on identity politics, says 'not worth my time to respond to him'

    Nikki Haley sparring with Vivek Ramaswamy. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

    About halfway through Wednesday's GOP debate, Vivek Ramaswamy accused Nikki Haley of using identity politics to her advantage in her campaign.

    "She said I have a woman problem," Ramaswamy said. "Nikki, I don't have a woman problem, you have a corruption problem. And I think that's what people need to know. Nikki is corrupt," he said, holding up a sign that read: "NIKKI = CORRUPT," which was met with boos from the crowd.

    "This is a woman who will send your kids to die so she can buy a bigger house. ... Having two X chromosomes does not immunize you from criticism," Ramaswamy said.

    "It's not worth my time to respond to him," Haley said to the moderators.

  • Kate Murphy

    Christie, DeSantis squabble over whether Trump is fit to be president

    Chris Christie repeatedly pressed Ron DeSantis on whether Donald Trump is fit to be president.

    DeSantis said he thinks "we need to have somebody younger."

    Christie interjected, asking why DeSantis doesn't answer the question directly. A fiery exchange ensued between the two.

    DeSantis ultimately didn't answer the question, preferring to focus on Trump's age.

  • Caitlin Dickson

    Ramaswamy rattles off a list of conspiracy theories he appears to endorse

    Vivek Ramaswamy gestures during Wednesday's debate. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

    Moderators failed to intervene as Vivek Ramaswamy appeared to endorse a list of conspiracy theories, including that the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was “an inside job.”

    On X, Washington Post reporter Dylan Wells pointed out that in Ramaswamy's 2021 book "Woke Inc." he called Jan. 6 a "deplorable and disgraceful assault on our democratic process by misguided rioters."

  • Dylan Stableford

    'This is an angry, bitter man who now wants to be back as president because he wants to exact retribution on anyone who has disagreed with him.'

    — Chris Christie on the danger of a second Trump term

  • Kate Murphy

    Christie defends Haley, calls Ramaswamy a 'blowhard'

    Chris Christie chats with Nikki Haley during a commercial break. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

    Chris Christie came to Nikki Haley's defense after Vivek Ramaswamy claimed the former U.N. ambassador couldn't name the provinces in Ukraine she wants to fight for.

    "This is the fourth debate that you would be voted in the first 20 minutes as the most obnoxious blowhard in America. So shut up for a little while," Christie told Ramaswamy.

    Christie went on to defend Haley, saying he was questioning her intelligence, not criticizing her positions. "This is a smart, accomplished woman and you should stop insulting her."

  • Caitlin Dickson

    'I think we should send special operations over [the Mexican border] and take out the cartels.'

    — Nikki Haley during Wednesday's debate

  • Kate Murphy

    DeSantis and Ramaswamy come out of the gate swinging at Haley

    Vivek Ramaswamy gestures as he speaks while Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley look on during Wednesday's debate. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wasted no time in taking a swing at former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. In his first response to a question, he took the opportunity to call out Haley saying, "I did a bill in Florida to stop the gender mutilation of minors, it’s child abuse and it’s wrong. She opposes that bill, she thinks it’s fine and the law shouldn’t get involved with it."

    Haley defended herself saying DeSantis "continues to lie about my record. I actually said his 'Don’t Say Gay' bill didn’t go far enough."

    Meanwhile, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy called Haley "corrupt" as he claimed her track record was she was "bankrupt" after she left the UN to now a "multi-millionaire."

    "I love all the attention fellas. Thank you for that," Haley responded to DeSantis and Ramaswamy.

  • Caitlin Dickson

    Christie says he would send U.S. troops to Gaza to free American hostages

    In response to a question first directed to Ron DeSantis, Christie said he would send U.S. troops to Gaza to rescue Americans held hostage by Hamas.

    "I would, absolutely," Christie said. "If they had a plan which showed me we could get them out safely, you’re damn right I’d send our people in there."