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DeSantis and Haley clash in Iowa debate as Trump holds town hall

The two Republican presidential hopefuls exchanged sharp words over their views on Trump, China, and the Civil War

The Iowa caucuses are less than a week away, and the Republican field is heating up as two of the top contenders, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, clashed in a CNN-hosted debate on Wednesday night.

The debate was the last one before the first-in-the-nation voting event, which will determine who will be the Republican nominee to challenge President Joe Biden in 2024. However, none of the other candidates joined them on stage, as former President Donald Trump held a separate town hall with Fox News.

DeSantis attacks Haley’s record and ties to wealthy donors

DeSantis, who has been trailing behind Trump in most polls, attacked Haley for her record as governor of South Carolina and her ties to wealthy donors. He accused her of flip-flopping on key issues such as taxes, immigration, and foreign policy.

He also criticized her for being a “phony” who pretended to be a moderate but was actually loyal to Trump. He said she was part of the “establishment” that wanted to stop Trump from winning in 2020.

Haley defended herself by saying that she had a consistent record of supporting conservative principles and standing up to China. She also said that she was not afraid to speak her mind and challenge Trump when he was wrong.

DeSantis and Haley clash in Iowa debate as Trump holds town hall

She said that DeSantis was trying to distract from his own failures as governor of Florida by attacking her. She said that he had mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic, failed to protect voting rights, and allowed corruption to flourish in his state.

Haley questions DeSantis’ toughness on China

Haley also questioned DeSantis’ toughness on China, saying that he had not done enough to confront Beijing’s human rights abuses and economic aggression. She said that he had been too soft on China’s leader Xi Jinping and had not supported Taiwan’s security.

She said that she had a better strategy for dealing with China than DeSantis did. She said that she would impose tariffs on Chinese goods, sanction Chinese officials who violated international law, and support Taiwan’s defense capabilities.

DeSantis responded by saying that he had been tough enough on China as governor of Florida. He said that he had banned Chinese companies from doing business with his state government, cracked down on Chinese influence operations in Florida schools and universities, and banned travel from China during the pandemic.

He also accused Haley of being naive about China’s intentions. He said that she would have given away America’s sovereignty and national security by appeasing Beijing.

DeSantis praises South Carolina while Haley criticizes Trump

The debate ended with Tapper asking both candidates what they admired about each other. DeSantis praised South Carolina for its economic growth, low taxes, strong education system, and beautiful beaches. He said that he loved living there as a child when his father served as ambassador there.

Haley criticized Trump for his role in inciting the January 6th Capitol riot. She said that he had lost the election fair and square and should have accepted it gracefully. She also blamed him for spreading lies about voter fraud and undermining democracy.

She said that she admired DeSantis for his courage and leadership skills. She said that he had shown resilience during the pandemic crisis by keeping Florida open despite rising cases and deaths. She also praised him for his efforts to expand school choice options for parents.

Both candidates agreed that they were running against Biden’s agenda of socialism, inflation, crime surge, border crisis, energy crisis, foreign policy blunders, etc. They also agreed that they were running against each other because they represented different visions for America’s future.

They both vowed to win Iowa caucuses next week by appealing to grassroots voters who want change from Washington insiders who have failed them.

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