The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Highlights from the third GOP debate

On Wednesday night at 7-9 p.m. CST, NBC News hosted the third GOP debate for remaining Republican presidential candidates. The debate was held in Miami and moderated by NBC anchors Hugh Hewitt, Lester Holt and Kristen Welker. 

Unlike previous debates, only five candidates were in attendance, as higher qualifying criteria disallowed previous participants from taking the stage. 

Candidates in attendance included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former President Trump qualified for the debate but did not participate. 

Candidates answered questions on topics ranging from foreign policy to abortion rights but did little to assert themselves over Trump, who maintains a strong lead in Republican primary polls.

Despite Trump’s absence, many recognize him as the debate’s overall winner, with the Washington Post writing “Trump’s lead has only continued to expand, and the candidates continue to be averse to even really attempting to lay a glove on him.”

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    When asked why they should be the candidate to face Trump, candidates mainly chose to avert critiquing the former president and discuss their own platforms. 

    DeSantis began by showing his concern for family security, rising grocery prices and climbing living expenses. Christie spoke about the war in Israel and America’s image as a protector of democracy and the economy. 

    “We have inflation choking every American family that wants to try to rise up and give their children a better life,” Christie said. 

    “I think he was the right president at the right time, I don’t think he’s the right president now,” Haley said as she spoke about the nation’s current condition. Haley mentioned families who are unable to afford bills, rampant antisemitism on college campuses and safety in the classroom. 

    However, Ramaswamy, the sole candidate without a prior career in politics, focused on the tumultuous state of the Republican Party and called for greater accountability. 

    “We’ve become a party of losers,” he said, upset about the second GOP presidential debate the night before.

    Scott’s answer reflected his Christian background, speaking on Americans’ loss of faith not just in the nation, but in God as well. He added how the restoration of Christian values would help America become “a city on the hill,” and said that he would help restore faith in God, each other and the future. 

    The following topics were five key issues discussed during the debate.


    Prejudice in the U.S. 

    The topic of Anti-Semitism on college campuses was posed by Matthew Brooks, CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition. 

    “History teaches us that antisemitism is a symptom of a deeper cancer in a society that is lost,” Ramaswamy said in response. He argued that leadership, not censorship, was the necessary course of action to get to the root cause of antisemitism. 

    “Federal funding is a privilege, not a right,” Scott said, sending a very strong reminder to university presidents who were not doing enough to condemn Hamas in their institutions. “To the students who have come to this country on a visa — your visa is a privilege, not a right.” 

    DeSantis criticized Biden, arguing that Biden should have the Department of Justice on these campuses to hold university administration accountable for their actions.

    Haley, tackling the topic of the current environment of the nation, asserted that antisemitism is just as awful as racism and should be treated by university presidents as such. 

    Meanwhile, Christie was asked a different question regarding the actions he would take against Islamophobia, like the death of a Muslim boy in Illinois, a hate crime occurring amid the Israel-Hamas war and heightened tension in the region. 

    He cited his actions in New Jersey, where he sent federal agents as protection to synagogues when they were under attack, meeting members and leaders of mosques and vowing to protect them regardless of their religion, given their compliance with the law. 



    Given recent democratic victories in several states on the issue of abortion, candidates were asked how they envision the future of abortion rights.  

    Desantis spoke first, making clear his personal belief in a “culture of life,” acknowledging that Republicans need to find consensus on the issue. Other candidates similarly emphasized their personal views on abortions, proposing different plans on how to move forward. 

    Ramaswamy stated men need to take more responsibility for preventing pregnancies, and both Haley and Christie agreed the issue should be left up to individual states. Scott called for a national 15-week abortion limit. 


    Opioids crossing the border 

    Hewwit asked candidates how they would address the opioid crisis, specifically as it relates to drug trafficking along the southern border.

    Consistent with the GOP’s platform, candidates took militaristic stances on the issue of the southern border, a sentiment best captured in Desantis’ statement that “if someone in the drug cartels is sneaking fentanyl across the border when I’m president, that’s going to be the last thing they do, we’re gonna shoot them stone cold dead.”

    Scott and Haley also emphasized they would take steps to reduce drug addiction and mental health issues within America. 


    Foreign policy

    The candidates took similar stances on foreign policy in the discussion surrounding Israel’s war on Hamas. DeSantis and Haley asserted that Hamas should be “finished” while Christie supported the idea that Israel must protect the safety of its citizens. 

    Ramaswamy continued to distance himself from the establishment and squabble with Haley, speaking on how corrupt politicians have wasted taxpayer money while profiting personally from war. 

    In regards to providing funding to Ukraine, some candidates, such as Christie, Scott and Haley, believed that supporting Ukraine meant supporting democratic interests in the region. However, others like DeSantis and Ramaswamy held more cautious stances and commented on other issues within U.S. foreign policy. 


    China and TikTok

    Economic independence from China was discussed and supported by candidates. as well as the potential for Chinese conflict with Taiwan. 

    Haley continued her support of increasing military force by emphasizing the necessity of America to modernize its military and how the U.S. should arm Taiwan. 

    Furthermore, with TikTok’s Chinese ownership, candidates were asked if they would ban, or force a sale of, TikTok if they were elected.

    All candidates promised to take a hard stance against TikTok, which Christie described as both “spyware” and “poison.” Candidates also reemphasized that China’s influence over the United States is a serious threat.

    Notably, Haley called out DeSantis for his hypocritical stance on China, as he has allowed Chinese companies to grow in Florida, and continued to clash with Ramaswamy, labeling him as “scum” after he mentioned that her daughter uses TikTok.


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