Dec 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Republican competitors dogpile Nikki Haley at GOP debate

Republican presidential candidates participate in the NewsNation Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the University of Alabama Moody Music Hall on Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley immediately emerged as the target for her Republican rivals during the fourth primary debate.

Why it matters: Haley is battling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the second place spot in the Republican primary polls, and she fielded attacks from her rivals within minutes of the debate's opening.

Driving the news: DeSantis accused Haley of caving "anytime the left comes after her, anytime the media comes after her."

  • Haley responded to DeSantis' criticisms by saying that the Florida governor "continues to lie" about her record.
  • Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who has sparred with Haley during previous debates, accused Haley of being "corrupt" and called her a "fascist" during the debate hosted by NewsNation.

Haley, the only woman running in the GOP primary, brushed off the criticism from her rivals:

  • "I love all of the attention, fellas. Thank you for that," she said.

Between the lines: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ended up coming to Haley's defense, blasting Ramaswamy for his critiques of her and saying Haley is a dedicated public servant.

  • "If you want to disagree on issues, that's fine, and Nikki and I disagree on some issues," Christie said in response to Ramaswamy.
  • "I've known her for 12 years ... and while we disagree about some issues and we disagree about who should be president of the United States, what we don't disagree on is, this is a smart, accomplished woman, you should stop insulting her."

The big picture: The criticisms come as Haley has been building momentum in the polls following strong performances in the first three debates.

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