GOP Candidates Target Nikki Haley in Fourth Debate

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    While Republican presidential races tend to focus on attacking each other, former Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stands out as someone who has not been subjected to much mudslinging - an ally of President Trump who also boasts Vice President Mike Pence's support and who currently vies with Haley for Iowa's top spot.


    Former President Donald Trump remained overlooked throughout the debate, which is consistent with recent behavior patterns. However, a notable exception arose during the second hour, as moderators directed a question to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie regarding Trump's presidency. Christie utilized the opportunity to deliver a scathing critique of Trump, eliciting boos from the crowd at the University of Alabama. Furthermore, Christie challenged Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to respond directly to his belief in Trump's fitness to hold the presidential office once again. At the debate's conclusion, moderators asked candidates which former President had inspired them, yet none identified Trump.


    During the fourth NewsNation debate on Wednesday night, some candidates focused more on attacking Haley, recently endorsed by the Koch Brothers, than on criticizing Trump. This suggests they view Haley as the biggest threat to their chances of defeating Trump. Specifically, Haley was criticized for supporting the Green New Deal, which some claim could lead to the loss of American jobs.


    In response to criticism of her tenure as the US ambassador to the UN, she pointed out that she had defended American interests in challenging countries like Iran and Venezuela, taking risks others were unwilling to take. She further criticized her political rivals for using social media to promote their campaigns and challenged them to disclose the sources of their financial support.


    Haley's recent comments about the Confederate flag have generated criticism from some of her rivals. In a recent interview, she acknowledged that the flag holds different meanings for different people but highlighted that it can also represent oppression for black residents of South Carolina. She called for lawmakers to take a stronger stance against its display. Additionally, she suggested that tech companies should do more to verify the identities of those posting online, which could help reduce toxicity on their platforms.


    She has taken an assertive stance against immigration, asserting that there should be no moral equivalency between immigrants and criminals who illegally enter the country. She praised her family for raising her and requested more help for asylum-seekers; at the same time, she warned against illegal aliens from breaking laws and should be deported immediately from America.


    Ramaswamy, who launched his presidential bid in February 2023 and enjoys substantial financial backing from the Koch brothers, repeatedly targeted her during the debate. At one point, he held up a notepad with "NIKKI = CORRUPTION" written across it to accuse her of accepting donations from companies like Boeing while serving as governor of South Carolina. Haley accused Ramaswamy of engaging in "identity politics" to bolster his campaign.


    Though she has been at the center of much debate, it remains to be seen how these attacks will impact her standing in the race. Polls show her standing closely against DeSantis in Iowa and recently surpassing him in New Hampshire and South Carolina - recently receiving high-profile support from conservative outside group Americans for Prosperity.

     Still, non-college Republicans continue to lean more heavily toward Trump than college graduates, making it harder for other candidates to surpass his substantial lead.