Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis try to knock each other out in last Iowa debate

Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley faced off Wednesday night over the Iowa Republican's vote in the final debate ahead of the nation's first Hawkeye state caucuses next week — each in a reversal of their former party. President Donald Trump is aiming for victory.

With just five days until the vote, the candidates spent two hours on CNN talking about aiding Ukraine, raising the retirement age and pressuring companies like Disney on social issues, while avoiding harsh personal attacks. They rehash their differences of opinion.

DeSantis, the Florida governor, accused Haley of being a “corporatist” who benefits from big donors and is likely to “betray” his promises, adding that Haley, a former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador, He derided him as a “hopeless person.'' A liar who ran an incompetent wasteful campaign.

Trump has a wide lead among Iowa voters, according to polls, and he rose above the fray by skipping the forum in favor of his own nearby Fox News town hall.

The 45th president is supported by 52.2% of Iowa Republicans, followed by Haley at 16.6% and DeSantis at 16.4%, according to RealClearPolitics' average of recent polls.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis accused Haley of being a “corporatist” beholden to big-money donors and likely to “give in” to social issues. AP

But an unlikely candidate could gain momentum heading into the Jan. 23 New Hampshire primary, with recent polls showing Haley within striking distance of Trump. Therefore, even if Trump wins, the identity of the runner-up may become important.

DeSantis said at the beginning of the debate, “Donald Trump is running to pursue his own issues. Nikki Haley is running to pursue her donor's issues. I'm running to pursue your issues and your family's issues. I'm running to pursue this.”

He slammed Haley, adding: “We don't need anymore bad-mouthed politicians who just tell you what they think you want to hear.”

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley derided Mr. DeSantis as a “hopeless” liar who waged a campaign of incompetence and waste. Reuters

The South Carolina native told viewers at least 11 times they should go to the website, and her campaign tried to counter his attacks, at one point shutting down the site. “Bless his heart,” he added in typical Southern fashion. Also.

“He's just angry about the donor because the donor used to be with him and he's no longer with him,” she said. “His campaign is exploding.”

Haley concluded by warning Republicans that a second Trump administration would bring “four more years of chaos” and saying she could “make America proud again.”

At the beginning of the debate, DeSantis compared his campaign to those of former President Trump and Haley, saying he was the only one pursuing “my issues and my family's issues.” Reuters
Haley gestures toward DeSantis during Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate. Getty Images

On policy, the candidates made clear differences on aid to Ukraine, as President Biden seeks an additional $61.4 billion from Congress after $113 billion has already been appropriated.

Haley accused DeSantis of “trying to imitate Trump and act like he doesn't want to support Ukraine,” adding that the funding to Ukraine was intended to “prevent war,” including stopping China's invasion of Taiwan. ”

DeSantis responded that Haley is “basically a carbon copy of what Biden is doing” by endorsing an “unrestricted commitment” to Kyiv, adding, “A lot of people are dying, We need to find a way to end it,” he added.

DeSantis and Haley shake hands before a debate at Drake University's Sheslow Auditorium on January 10, 2024. Getty Images

On the question of whether the Social Security retirement age should be raised from the current age of 66 or 67 to receive full benefits, Mr. DeSantis said he opposed it, citing declining life expectancy in the United States.

“Under her administration, cost-of-living adjustments for seniors will be reduced and people's taxes will go toward pensions for Ukrainians,” Haley said, adding that she intends to raise the retirement age for Ukrainians. He harshly criticized Haley. Currently in my 20s,

“We should plan to raise the retirement age,” she says.

DeSantis' anti-Disney campaign also divided the candidates after the entertainment giant opposed a Florida law restricting discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.

DeSantis looked down at the podium as Haley spoke during a debate between the two Republican presidential candidates at Drake University on January 10, 2024. Reuters

Co-host Dana Bash asked DeSantis, “How does that square with the traditional conservative view that small, limited government is best?”

“If there's any meaning to the proper role of government, it's to protect children,” DeSantis said. “It's wrong to teach kindergartners that they can change their gender, as Disney wanted to do, or to tell third graders that they were born with the wrong body.”

He launched an attack on the “corporate” Haley, saying, “When she was in South Carolina, she supported $900 million in grants to Boeing. Then, when she left office, she took a seat on the board.” , made millions of dollars.”

DeSantis and Haley point fingers at each other during debate on January 10, 2024. Reuters

Haley replied: “We are not woke in South Carolina…but one thing you should not do is the government is not bullying our business. That can't happen. Ron is determined. Anyone who offends him, he will go after them.''

The candidates also jeered at each other over campaign gaffes, with DeSantis highlighting Haley's recent comments that New Hampshire could “fix” the results in Iowa, but her said it was a joke.

“He burned through $150 million through his campaign and has nothing to show for it,” Haley fumed. “In Iowa, he spends more on private flights than on commercials…If he can't manage the campaign, how is he going to manage the country?”

While DeSantis and Haley debated, Trump held a town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, which was broadcast on Fox News Wednesday night. Getty Images

DeSantis countered that Haley might be “more liberal than California Governor Gavin Newsom,” and said of the former diplomat's work in the Trump administration, “You can kick an ambassador out of the United Nations, but you can take away the United Nations. I can't do that.'' Countries should let their ambassadors resign. ”

Meanwhile, Trump attracted attention during a Fox town hall when he teased that while he aims for a rematch with Biden, who narrowly defeated the 45th president in 2020, he has already decided on his running mate.



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