MIAMI — Five Republican presidential candidates took to the stage in Miami on Wednesday night to face off in the third Republican primary debate, hoping to make a dent in Donald Trump’s sizable lead.
Trump, who has dominated the GOP polls so far, missed the third debate and rallied with supporters in Florida instead. Comedian Roseanne Barr and Trump’s former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders endorsed him at the event.
Here are three main takeaways from the third GOP debate:
Vivek looks for a VP slot
With Trump’s lead looking like it will hold, Vivek Ramaswamy spent much of the debate playing to gain support from the former president’s supporters, attempting to appeal to Trump’s base in hopes of landing a chance of being Trump’s running mate.
Ramaswamy attacked early and often, sparring with moderator Kristen Welker, complaining that NBC News was hosting the debate, and blamed Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel for the string of GOP losses in the elections Tuesday.
He then attacked Nikki Haley as “Dick Cheney in 3-inch heels,” which drew some roars and boos from the crowd. At one point in the debate, he attacked Haley’s daughter for using TikTok.
“Leave my daughter out of your voice,” she responded. “You’re just scum.”
Haley’s stance on abortion
A day after Ohio voted to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, the topic was brought up in the final moments of the debate. Haley responded by giving her stance on the topic, saying federal bans were politically unrealistic.
“As much as I’m pro-life, I don’t judge anyone for being pro-choice and I don’t want them to judge me for being pro-life,” she said.
“We don’t need to divide America over this issue anymore,” Haley concluded.
Nothing will change
Wednesday’s debate will likely do nothing to change the trajectory of the race. Trump still has a massive grip on the main support of the Republican Party, especially after being endorsed by his former press secretary.
“The time has come to return to the normal policies of the Trump era which created a safer, stronger, and more prosperous America, and that’s why I am proud to endorse Donald Trump for President,” Sanders said in a statement ahead of the rally.