Vivek Ramaswamy, GOP debate

Opinion: Here Are 4 Takeaways From The Fourth GOP Primary Debate

The fourth GOP primary debate took place Wednesday in Alabama, and with the Iowa caucuses less than two months away, things got contentious on the debate stage. 

The fourth GOP primary debate took place Wednesday in Alabama, and with the Iowa caucuses less than two months away, things got contentious on the debate stage. 

Former President Donald Trump once again skipped the debate, leaving former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy to fight for the attention of Republican voters. 

Here are four takeaways from the final primary debate of 2023.

  1.  Ramaswamy and DeSantis Go After Haley

Nikki Haley, second to Trump in the polls, was attacked quickly and frequently by DeSantis and Ramaswamy. 

It took less than a minute into the debate before DeSantis started a dispute over what bathrooms transgender people should use. Minutes later, Ramaswamy rehashed his attacks on Haley from the third debate, attacking her for sitting on the board of Boeing, which has a manufacturing facility in the state she previously governed.

Ramaswamy didn’t stop there. He also criticized Haley for using Nikki as her first name instead of her legal first name, Nimarata, and because LinkedIn co-founder and prominent Democrat donor Reid Hoffman donated to Haley’s super PAC. However, the wildest moment of his attacks came when Ramaswamy held up a notepad that stated in large letters, “Nikki = corrupt.”

  1. Christie Defends Haley, Attacks Everyone Else

The subject of Trump was largely avoided in the debate except in the second hour when Christie was asked about the former president, and he didn’t hold back.

Christie started by attacking his on-stage rivals for being largely silent about the threats Trump presents to democracy.

He then called Trump a “dictator,” a “bully,” and unfit for office.

“He started out the campaign by saying, ‘I’m your retribution,’” Christie said of Trump’s current campaign. “Eight years ago, he said, ‘I am your voice.’”

Throughout the debate, Christie had words for all of his opponents. He went after DeSantis for his refusal to say whether Trump was unfit for office.,

“Either you’re afraid, or you’re not listening. It’s a simple question to answer,” Christie said. “I’m a simple guy. I hear the question, and I answer it.”

He also blasted Ramaswamy for backtracking on comments he made throughout the primary period. That led the two into a back-and-forth shouting match in which Christie criticized the Ohio businessman’s proposal for a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia and accused Ramaswamy of changing his story on the debate stage and the campaign trail and, lastly, of being annoying.

“This is the fourth debate that you would be voted, in the first 20 minutes, as the most obnoxious blowhard in America,” Christie said.

The former Gov. did defend Haley on several occasions, including from Ramaswarmy’s numerous attacks.

“This is a smart, accomplished woman,” Christie told Ramaswamy after an exchange between him and Haley. “You should stop insulting her.”

  1. Ramaswamy Loses His Cool 

Ramaswamy continued his attacks during the last debate, even after polling numbers dropped.

The businessman portrayed himself as the outsider, making strange statements like “Jan. 6 now does look like it was an inside job” and “the climate change agenda is a hoax.”

Additionally, he threw insults at his fellow nominees, mocking Christie’s weight, calling Haley a “puppet” of corporate America and the military-industrial complex.

The insults and statements didn’t seem to work as the crowd booed at his statements several times, and his wild claims were debunked in segments after the debate.

  1. Trump Still Sits At The Top

None of the people on the debate stage separated themselves from Trump, who still has a double-digit lead in the polls and is expected to become the nominee. However, Trump still faces 91 criminal charges and will likely be forced to split his time between the campaign and numerous court appearances as the election draws closer.

Additionally, his business is on its last legs as New York Attorney General Letitia James has put Trump’s children on the stand during his fraud civil trial, and Justice Arthur Engoron denied Trump’s request to read a disclaimer clause that he insisted clears him of the charges. Engoron has also fined Trump twice for statements he’s made that have violated gag orders.