Swings, misses but no clear winner: five takeaways from the fourth Republican debate | Republicans #Swings #misses #clear #winner #takeaways #fourth #Republican #debate #Republicans

The fourth Republican debate in Alabama featured just four people – winnowing the broad pool down to Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy – but once again missing frontrunner Donald Trump.

The debate, hosted by NewsNation and moderated by Megyn Kelly, Elizabeth Vargas and Eliana Johnson, devolved into conspiracy theories and confusing personal attacks despite some clear and forthright questions.

With primary elections just weeks away now, the four candidates tried to make their mark on stage yet again, but largely fell short. Here are the key takeaways.

When pressed on Trump, the candidates took some swings and many misses at the likely Republican nominee

Chris Christie again positioned himself as the anti-Trump candidate, pointing to Trump’s legal issues and calling him a “dictator” who would weaponize the justice department to settle his scores.

Haley and DeSantis focused instead on specific policy issues. Haley said she opposed a “straight Muslim ban”. DeSantis avoided saying if Trump was unfit for office, but said the former president had not delivered on several promises, and the American people should want a young president.

Christie chided his opponents for continuing to skirt around direct Trump attacks.

The candidates, other than Ramaswamy, doubled down on their aggressive, pro-Israel rhetoric. Haley said she would introduce legislation to tie anti-Israel sentiment with antisemitism and made a comparison between pro-Palestinian protests and KKK marches.

DeSantis accused Biden of restricting support for Israel (Biden has requested at least $14bn in additional funding for Israel aid) and once again touted his own actions as governor of Florida.

Personal attacks were common, and Vivek Ramaswamy was at either end of many of them

With four desperate candidates pulling out all the stunts, Ramaswamy once again stood out for his antics on stage. From holding up a paper saying “Nikki = Corrupt”, to making fat phobic digs at Christie, the entrepreneur attempted to stay relevant, but was met multiple times with audience boos.

Vivek Ramaswamy holds up a sign at the fourth Republican presidential primary debate.
Vivek Ramaswamy holds up a sign at the fourth Republican presidential primary debate. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

But there were some other attacks too. Haley and DeSantis, both struggling to save a second-place spot, called each other hypocrites on China policy, transgender issues and other conservative red meat topics.

Transgender issues cycled in and out of both the answers and questions in the debate, though the issue doesn’t seem to be a decisive vote winner for most Republicans

DeSantis attacked Haley on a failed “bathroom bill” in North Carolina and touted his own anti-trans bills in Florida. Ramaswamy called transgender identity a mental health issue. Christie attempted to walk the middle road by saying he would let parents decide and stay out of the discussion on whether children should be able to get gender-affirming treatment.

There was no clear winner

All the candidates seemed to do what they were expected to do. Christie focused on his anti-Trump posturing. DeSantis focused on his wins as a governor. Haley played the role of steady conservative hand. And Ramaswamy attempted to make memes and headlines by being a bully and firebrand.

#Swings #misses #clear #winner #takeaways #fourth #Republican #debate #Republicans

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