TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Five candidates faced off in the third Republican primary debate of the 2024 presidential race on Wednesday – and we want to know who you think won.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy appeared on the slightly-less-crowded debate stage in Miami.
Former President Donald Trump, the current frontrunner in the GOP primary race, skipped out on the debate in favor of a rally in the nearby city of Hialeah. Also absent from the stage were former Vice President Mike Pence, who dropped out of the race last month, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who did not qualify for the debate.
Tensions were high going into Wednesday’s event, with DeSantis and Haley trying to position themselves as the chief alternative to Trump. Haley has usurped DeSantis from his second-place standing in several polls in recent weeks.
Who do you think won Wednesday’s debate? Vote in the poll below:
Couldn’t watch the debate? Here’s what you missed:
DeSantis began the debate demanding that Donald Trump come to the stage and explain why he didn’t wall off the entire U.S. southern border and have Mexico pay for it as he’d promised to do as president.
As the night wound down, DeSantis went a step farther, making the unlikely claim that he could keep the promise Trump broke.
DeSantis vowed to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it, a comment that went unchallenged by moderators or other candidates.
Whether DeSantis will get the chance remains to be seen given the commanding early lead Trump has built in the Republican 2024 presidential primary, despite skipping all three debates. But erecting a wall the length of the nearly 2,000-mile border is nearly unthinkable –and the idea that Mexico would fit the bill strains credulity even further.
Republican presidential candidates came out swinging with benefit cuts to Social Security in order to preserve the retirement income program. Some also said they could achieve stronger economic growth, though past pledges along those lines have fallen flat.
According to a trustee’s report, Social Security will be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2023 without changes that could include less benefits or higher taxes.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he would raise the retirement age for younger workers, including his 30 year-old son. Christie also tried to shame billionaire Warren Buffet for collecting Social Security, even though the payments would reflect the payroll taxes that he paid over his career.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley would also raise the retirement age and limit payments to wealthy individuals.
Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy suggested he could save the program through drastic spending cuts that would shutter federal agencies and possibly lay off the majority of government workers.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said he would achieve faster growth, even though former President Donald Trump pledged he could also boost gross domestic product gains and failed to do so. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he knows a few Social Security recipients in his home state, which has a reputation for catering to retirees, and he, too, would get faster economic growth.