July 14, 2024

A battle for second place at the third Republican debate

Of the seven candidates still in the running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, only five (Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie and Tim Scott) qualified for the party’s third debate in Miami, Florida. The city lies in the home state of candidate Governor Ron DeSantis, whose performance underscored a battle for second place between himself and ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. 

Included in the graphic are the data results of all candidates still in the 2024 Presidential Race following the third debate.

The debate stage was remarkably smaller than the September debate in California at the Ronald Reagan Library. Absent for the third time was front-runner Donald Trump who, despite skipping, has maintained a clear lead over his competitors according to many national polls

The former President, who is currently embroiled in legal battles in Georgia and New York, was briefly discussed in the debate. Ultimately, the focus remained on the candidates present on stage, and discussion of Trump’s lawsuits was kept to a minimum to avoid alienating his voters.

Unlike Trump, the two other candidates missing from the debate stage were former Governor Asa Hutchinson and Governor Doug Burgum who did not meet the fundraising and polling threshold requirements to earn their spots in the debate. Also missing was former Vice President Mike Pence who officially withdrew from the race almost two weeks prior to the Miami debate. 

Though the two battling for second place, DeSantis and Haley, remained cordial throughout the debate, it was Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy who clashed the most. 

As the subject shifted from ongoing international wars into funding and government spending for said wars, Ramaswamy took an opportunity to dig into Haley, as well as DeSantis, asking, “Do you want Dick Cheney in three inch heels [to be President]?”

The comment was in response to both Haley’s shoe choice and the online controversy that theorizes DeSantis has been wearing lifts in his boots to appear taller. The DeSantis campaign has not released a statement on the allegations.

Foreign policy with China was once again a major source of contention on stage, specifically on the topic of Tik Tok usage. The controversial social media platform is linked to their parent company Byte Dance, a Beijing-based internet technology company who has previously been accused by the candidates of selling user data to the Chinese government.  

In a fiery exchange between the challengers, Ramaswamy accused Haley of hypocrisy for bashing him in the previous debate for his campaign’s usage of the app despite Haley’s daughter having her own account. 

Bringing another candidate’s family into the debate is typically a gamble that can end presidential bids. The tactic notably worked well for debate-absentee Trump in the 2016 debates against Jeb Bush, and carried mixed results with audiences in the 2020 debates when he criticized First Son Hunter Biden. Still, it is almost unheard of for a candidate to discuss another candidate’s children, especially in the Republican party which emphasizes an importance of family-centric values. 

While the spat between Haley and Ramaswamy was quickly shut down by the moderators, it wasn’t before booing could be heard emanating from the audience. Haley also managed to throw shots back at Ramaswamy, saying, “you’re just scum” before Ramaswamy was cut off. 

Most of the foreign policy discussions centered around the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, which began on Oct. 7 following the Hamas terrorist attacks. All five of the candidates reiterated their support for Israel, including the Israeli military’s response which has left 12,000 people in Gaza dead. While answers from each of the candidates nearly echoed one another, Haley, whose ambassador experience channeled her answer, called on Israel to “finish Hamas” and stop “Islamic terrorism” in the region. 

Chris Christie also called upon Israel to finish Hamas, while Desantis highlighted a necessity to bring home any American service members stuck in the midst of the war. Ramaswamy’s answer, however, delineated a brief return to the subject of immigrants and the southern border which he compared to the “terrorist group Hamas.” 

Among the last issues to make an appearance in the debate was abortion. Just one day prior, Ohio voters officially enshrined reproductive rights into the state constitution. For Ohio native Ramaswamy, this was difficult news. 

Overall the candidates’ responses were once again predominantly in agreement, with Tim Scott aligning himself as the most restrictive, calling for a 15-week abortion ban, and Haley aligning herself as the most progressive of the bunch. Both she and Christie said that it should be up to each state to decide, however she did praise the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v Wade. 

Scott officially dropped out of the presidential race four days after the debate. 


  • Josie Speakman

    Josie is a first-year Political Science major with a Spanish minor on a Pre-Law track. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching movies.

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