Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

6 takeaways from the fourth Republican primary debate

CW / Maven Navarro

Four Republican presidential candidates battled it out during the fourth Republican debate, hosted by NewsNation at The University of Alabama. 

The candidates who participated in the debate were Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie. Former president and Republican front-runner Donald Trump did not participate in any of the four primary debates. 

With the Iowa caucuses only 40 days away, the candidates discussed six prominent topics on voters’ minds: Trump, Israel, immigration, transgender rights and the economy.  

Despite moderators Elizabeth Vargas, Megyn Kelly and Eliana Johnson’s attempts to stop the frequent name-calling and shouting, they could not calm the never-ending storm.


Although the moderators made it clear that Trump was invited to the debate, he was a no-show. Kelly’s question about Trump’s lead in the polls drew the ire of Christie, the former New Jersey governor, who brought up the legal issues Trump is currently facing and questioned why the other candidates are not focusing on this problem.

Christie pointed out that the other candidates had failed to answer whether they thought Trump would be fit to be president, even though they said they would support Trump if he were selected as the Republican candidate. 

DeSantis, the Florida governor, said Trump had failed to drain the swamp, had deported fewer people than Obama and hadn’t built the wall. DeSantis spoke out against both Trump’s and Biden’s ages, saying the president should not be over 80 years old since the country needs someone who can serve two terms. 

Although Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, said she thought Trump was good with trade, she said her plan for the country is the opposite of Trump’s retribution plan. 

Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur, said the country needs a leader who is outside traditional politics and brings insight from a new generation. He criticized the other candidates for supporting Trump and said they only criticize the former president when they find it convenient.


As America watches the war between Israel and Hamas, the candidates discussed how they would handle the conflict if they were president.

DeSantis said that based on the number of Americans killed during Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, the attack is one of the top 10 terrorist attacks in American history. He said it’s America’s responsibility to fight back against foreign terrorists and support Israel by looking out for hostages. America, he said, has the right to eliminate Hamas and prevent a second Holocaust from happening. 

Even though Christie tended to lean on his podium and watch the banter between his fellow candidates, he yelled about how he would support Israel.

“If they had a plan which showed me that we could get them [American hostages] out safely, you’re damn right I’d send the American army in there,” Christie said. 

Ramaswamy said Israel has the absolute right to defend itself. Haley compared pro-Palestine protests across college campuses to Ku Klux Klan protests. She said if these protesters were supporting white supremacist policies, college presidents would take a stand against the protests.

Haley said she would ban TikTok as she claimed for every 30 minutes a person spends on the app, they become 17% more antisemitic. She appears to have been misconstruing the results of a recent survey that found that spending 30 minutes or more per day on TikTok was associated with a 17% increase in the chances that a person holds antisemitic or anti-Israel opinions.  


Haley said if she were elected, she would stop incentives for immigrants coming to America illegally. She said her family is offended by illegal immigrants since her parents immigrated to America legally. 

Ramaswamy said he would use the military to secure the border and fight the fentanyl epidemic. He said the root cause of the problem can be attributed to labs in Wuhan, China, that are supplying fentanyl to countries like Mexico. He blamed China for unleashing hell on the world through the COVID-19 pandemic and now fentanyl. 

DeSantis said he would build the wall that Trump failed to deliver. 

“There’s going to be a new sheriff in town and these drug cartels better watch out,” DeSantis said. 

Transgender rights

DeSantis and Haley went back and forth on gender and public restroom issues, drawing cheers and shouts from the audience. 

Haley said DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill didn’t go far enough to protect children. As governor of South Carolina, Haley said, she hadn’t brought the government into the transgender restroom issue. However, Haley’s remarks about keeping female sports for women only were met with an outburst of cheers.

“I don’t think men should be going into little girls’ bathrooms,” DeSantis said. “I signed the bill. She [Haley] didn’t do it.”

Ramaswamy said transgender issues are mental health issues, which was met with cheers from the audience. Christie said parents should be able to make decisions for their minor children, but questioned how far the government should be allowed to interfere with these parental rights. 

DeSantis argued, “As a parent, you do not have the right to abuse your kids,” which was greeted with loud cheers.

American economy 

All four candidates agreed that the economy, college debt and the national debt need to be fixed. 

Haley said foreign money needs to get out of our universities. Her comment about taking colleges’ tax exemption statuses away if they accept foreign money was met with cheers and applause. 

Haley said she would veto any bill that did not get the national debt back to where it was before the pandemic. 

DeSantis said he would lower gas prices and encourage vocational training among younger adults to lessen the effect of college debt. He said no truck driver should be paying the debt of a student who majored in gender studies. 

Christie said Americans need a restored faith in the justice system and attorney general. He alluded to Trump’s legal issues as he said the government needs to get out of the way during criminal investigations and let the Department of Justice do its job.

Ramaswamy said the country has a broken healthcare system, and his comments were met with applause. 

“We don’t have a health care system in America,” Ramaswamy said. “We have a sick-care system.” 

Closing remarks

As the debate came to a close, each candidate named the president they would draw inspiration from if elected. 

Christie named Ronald Reagan, Haley named George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, DeSantis named Calvin Coolidge, and Ramaswamy named Thomas Jefferson.

More to Discover