Miami in the third GOP presidential primary debate, the stakes were high as candidates engaged in intense exchanges, covering an array of topics while vying to distinguish themselves, all in the absence of former President Donald Trump.
A Focus on Foreign Policy
The two-hour-long debate primarily centered around candidates’ foreign policy views, with a significant emphasis on addressing the crises in Israel and Gaza, as well as the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Nikki Haley Shines as Foreign Policy Advocate: Miami
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina Governor, emerged as a standout candidate, successfully defending her foreign policy positions against repeated attacks from her opponents. She skillfully used their criticisms to highlight her distinctive positions on issues, particularly in relation to Russia and China.
GOP Strategists Praise Haley’s Performance
GOP strategists praised Haley’s strong articulation of her policy positions, even when confronted with attacks. Rob Stutzman, a seasoned Republican operative, lauded her for consistently delivering strong debate performances. Brendan Steinhauser, known for his campaign leadership in high-profile congressional races, commended Haley’s strength, confidence, and substance, noting her ability to appeal to GOP voters.
Haley’s Rising Momentum: Miami
Nikki Haley’s recent debate successes have propelled her as the leading alternative to Trump, with an upward trajectory in the polls. Her support among registered voters planning to vote in the GOP race has risen significantly, making her a formidable contender in the race.
DeSantis’ Unconventional Critique of Trump
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took an unconventional stance during the debate by criticizing former President Trump, a rare move for the Republican contender. DeSantis attributed recent Republican losses to Trump and pledged to put an end to the party’s losing streak.
DeSantis’ Struggles and Haley’s Ascendance
Once considered the inevitable nominee, DeSantis is now facing stiff competition from Nikki Haley, with her gaining momentum and closing the gap in the polls.
Tim Scott’s Attempt to Shine
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who narrowly qualified for the debate, aimed to stand out on the Miami stage. He focused on his message of faith throughout the conversation but struggled to break new ground against frontrunners like Haley and DeSantis.
A Critical Moment for Scott: Miami
Without a standout moment in the debate, this may have been one of Tim Scott’s last opportunities to make a lasting impression on voters and donors. Qualifications for the next RNC debate are even more stringent, making it crucial for candidates to seize the moment.
Stringent Qualifications for the Next RNC Debate
To secure a spot on the podium in the next RNC debate, candidates must meet rigorous requirements, including receiving 6% support in at least two polls and garnering 80,000 unique donors from 20 or more states.