GOP presidential primary candidates debate for a third time without the clear Republican frontrunner in the mix

News & Politics

Five GOP presidential primary candidates participated Wednesday night in the third Republican presidential primary debate of the 2024 election cycle, but as in the first two debates, the clear frontrunner in the GOP nominating contest, former President Donald Trump, was conspicuously absent from the stage.

Trump opted to hold a rally in Hialeah, Florida, on Wednesday night.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, author and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina were the five candidates who took part in the debate.

“He owes it to you to be on this stage and explain why he should get another chance,” DeSantis said about Trump. “He should explain why he didn’t have Mexico pay for the border wall. He should explain why he racked up so much debt. He should explain why he didn’t drain the swamp.”

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“I think he was the right president at the right time. I don’t think he’s the right president now,” Haley said of Trump.

During a portion of the debate focused on the social media platform TikTok, Ramaswamy claimed that Haley’s “own daughter was actually using the app for a long time.”

“Leave my daughter out of your voice,” Haley responded. She also called Ramaswamy “scum.”

While discussing the issue of abortion, Haley said, “As much as I’m pro-life, I don’t judge anyone for being pro-choice.” She added that she does not want people to judge her for her pro-life viewpoint.

During his closing remarks, Ramaswamy called for the Democratic Party to “end this farce that Joe Biden is gonna be your nominee.” He called for the party to “have the guts to step up and be honest about who you’re actually gonna put up so we can have an honest debate.”

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