Four of the five candidates contending for the Republican nomination met in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, last night for the fourth debate of the primary, and sparks flew despite the biggest candidate, Donald Trump, again refusing to participate.
Former ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy took swipes at each other and Trump as they looked to shake up the standings with just over one month from the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. When the dust settled, many commentators, including Bill O’Reilly, debated about the victor, but everyone agreed on one thing: enough with Vivek Ramaswamy.
The Washington Post writes that there were two major winners: Donald Trump and Nikki Haley.
“Trump wasn’t onstage because he didn’t have to be,” the newspaper argued. “While defending himself from indictments on 91 criminal charges in four separate cases, polls and fundraising totals show he has continued to dominate the race as his supporters embrace his claims that he is being persecuted by his political opponents through the justice system.
On Wednesday night, Trump remained relatively unscathed over the course of the two hours. He faced some sharp attacks from Christie, who warned that Trump wants retribution and cares only about himself, not the people he would be representing as president. But the former New Jersey governor was roundly booed by the audience when he said during his closing statement that Trump would not be voting in the November election because he would be a convicted felon.”
Haley has been climbing the polls recently, moving into second place nationally and receiving major backing from both the libertarian-leaning Koch political network, major figures on Wall Street, and Republican power brokers like Paul Ryan. Of those on the stage, the liberal leaning outlet said she did the best.
“Wednesday night’s faceoff was essentially the end of the semifinals for Haley and DeSantis as they battle for a distant second place to Trump in Iowa, which will hold the first nominating contest of 2024 on Jan. 15. Haley was repeatedly the prime target of DeSantis and Ramaswamy, but she once again held her own. The Florida governor set the tone for the debate when he went after Haley in his first answer, charging then and throughout the debate that she would ‘cave’ to Wall Street titans, liberal donors and moderates in the Republican Party — painting her as an establishment figure from a bygone era. Ramaswamy called Haley ‘corrupt’ in his first answer, cast her as a pawn of donor puppet masters, and ultimately held up a handwritten sign in all caps on his legal pad that read ‘NIKKI = CORRUPT.’”
A poll of Iowa voters agreed with The Washington Post. Nikki Haley was the big winner in the Hawkeye State:
🏆 Iowa voters say Nikki Haley won GOP debate: pic.twitter.com/iJaAEgR0Cq
— Team Haley (@TeamHaley) December 7, 2023
Among conservative commentators, however, nearly all thought it was the best debate from DeSantis, who many argue is the only one with a chance to defeat Trump rather than merely contend to be his vice president.
It’s super simple: DeSantis won the night and Haley got crushed. pic.twitter.com/zVaztoIXKo
— Pedro L. Gonzalez (@emeriticus) December 7, 2023
Bill O’Reilly explained why:
The one thing everyone agreed upon, however, was that Vivek Ramaswamy was the loser of the debate. Called “obnoxious” by several people, including Chris Christie on the stage.
Mick Mulvaney may have summed it up best: “There may not have been a clear winner, but there was a clear loser, and that was Vivek Ramaswamy.”