Chaos descended early and seldom let up during the fourth and final Republican presidential primary debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie taking more shots at each other than at the issues, or even at Trump.
Maybe it was because those in the narrowing field of challengers to Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination had nothing else to lose Wednesday night, given the former president's prodigious lead in the polls.
Sparks flew early during the debate broadcast by fledgling cable network NewsNation after the first question about electability from moderator and former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, when Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador, tangled with DeSantis, the Florida governor, with businessman Ramaswamy joining in to resume his feud with Haley.
Meanwhile, Christie, the former New Jersey governor, stood by and watched until 17 minutes into the debate, when the question finally got to him. He said his three counterparts spent all that time taking swipes at each other when they should instead have been talking about the absence of Trump, who skipped the debate, like he did the three previous, because of his large lead in the polls.
"The truth needs to be spoken; he's unfit [for office]," Christie, a bitter critic of Trump, said, referring to the president as Voldemort, the villain in the "Harry Potter" books whose name is not uttered.
"The fact is when you go and you say the truth about somebody who is a dictator, a bully, who has taken shots at everybody — whether they've given him great service or not over time — who dares to disagree with him, then I understand why these three are timid to say anything about it," Christie said.
During a talk on Ukraine and foreign policy, Christie shouted down Ramaswamy after Ramaswamy criticized Haley, saying she couldn't name three provinces in Ukraine to defend. Ramaswamy was pointing out that foreign policy experience does not equate with wisdom. Christie came to Haley's defense, pointed his finger at Ramaswamy and called him "the most obnoxious blowhard in America."
Ramaswamy came back at Christie, and when Christie tried to interrupt him, Ramaswamy shouted him down. Ramaswamy brought up the Bridgegate controversy in New Jersey and told Christie to go walk off the stage and eat a nice meal.
Michael Katz ✉
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.
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