DeSantis, Haley Open Debate by Attacking Trump: ‘I Don’t Think He’s the Right President Now’

MIAMI, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 08: Republican presidential candidates (L-R), former U.N. Ambass
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley opened up the third Republican debate by criticizing former President Donald Trump after moderators asked them to make their case to Trump supporters.

When asked to make the case on why he should be the GOP nominee rather than Trump — the latter of whom is wildly popular, leading in poll after poll — DeSantis immediately pointed to the “elites,” telling voters that they do not care about them.

“They don’t care that you’re having to grapple with higher grocery prices or have higher gas prices. They don’t care that your family’s less secure because of the open border that’s allowed drugs and even terrorists to come into this country. … I am not going to sit idly by and let this country continue its downward spiral. We need leadership and we need it now. I’ll take the hits. I’ll take the arrows. I’ll take the slings because ultimately it’s not about me. It’s about you,” DeSantis said, seemingly mimicking Trump. “I will fight for you.”

DeSantis then claimed that Trump is “a lot different guy than he was in 2016” before criticizing him for refusing to participate in the debates.

Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign rally at Trendsetter Engineering Inc. on November 02, 2023, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

“He owes it to you to be on this stage and explain why he should get another chance. He should explain why he didn’t have Mexico pay for the border wall. He should explain why he racked up so much debt. He should explain why he didn’t drain the swamp and he said Republicans were gonna get tired of winning,” DeSantis continued before reviving the critique lodged by his supporters, who blame Trump for Daniel Cameron’s loss in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race.

“Well, we saw last night — I’m sick of Republicans losing. In Florida, I showed how it’s done one year ago here. We won a historic victory, including a massive landslide right here in Miami-Dade County. That’s how we have to do it,” he said, failing to mention his narrow victory in 2018, which he received after Trump’s endorsement.

Haley also criticized Trump, immediately pointing to the country’s trillions in debt.

“Everybody wants to talk about President Trump. Well, I can talk about President Trump. I can tell you that I think he was the right president at the right time. I don’t think he’s the right president now,” she said, criticizing Trump for adding to the national debt.

“I think the fact that he used to be right on Ukraine and foreign issues, now he’s getting weak in the knees and trying to be friendly again,” she said, failing to elaborate.

“I think that we’ve got to go back to the fact that we can’t live in the past. We can’t live in other headlines. We’ve got to start focusing on what’s going to make America strong and proud. And that’s what I’m focused on doing,” she added.


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