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Recap of Third Republican Primary Debate (by Stances and Quotes)

By · Dec 8, 2023 · 18 min read

Recap of Third Republican Primary Debate (by Stances and Quotes)

On November 8th, the third Republican primary debate was held in Miami. The eight candidates in running during the second debate were slimmed down to six, but only five attended, as Donald Trump yet again declined to attend. The other five candidates were:

  • Ron DeSantis (the current governor of Florida)
  • Vivek Ramaswamy (the founder of Roivant Sciences)
  • Nikkey Haley (the former governor of South Carolina)
  • Tim Scott (the current Senator of South Carolina)
  • Chris Christie (the former governor of New Jersey)

Here are the current percentages of sampled Republican voters who said they would vote for the following candidates:


Despite a decrease in Trump’s popularity since the second Republican debate, he is still in the lead. It should also be noted that Tim Scott dropped out of the election on November 12th, just four days after the debate, and is no longer a contender.

During the debate, candidates discussed rising inflation and the economy at large, which 52% of polled Republicans said was the most important issue for them, controlling immigration (41%), foreign policy (30%), etc.

Foreign Policy

The first topic on the table, one which took up almost half of the debate, was foreign policy, specifically regarding the war in Gaza, American funding of Ukraine, and U.S. relations with China.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict

On October 7th, Hamas, the terrorist group which has governed the Gaza strip since 2007,  invaded Israel, going on to attack military bases and towns. This initial attack yielded a civilian death count of over 1,200. Since then, Israel has, declared war on Hamas in an escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unseen since the Yom Kippur War, with over 10,000 Palestinians killed in a one-month time period.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“We will stand with Israel in word and indeed in public and in private. And I can tell you as governor, I actually did something about it. Biden’s neglect has been atrocious, we had Floridians that were over there after the attack. He left them stranded. They couldn’t get flights out. So I scrambled resources in Florida. I sent planes over to Israel and I brought back over 700 people to safety. There could have been more hostages had we not acted.”
Haley“And the reason is I worked on this every day when I was at the United Nations and we have to remember that they have to one, eliminate Hamas, two support Israel with whatever they need, whenever they need it. And three, make sure we bring our hostages home. We need to be very clear-eyed to know there would be no Hamas without Iran”


The last part of her speech is in reference to the Iran-Israel proxy conflict in which Iran provides resources to anti-Israeli groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Ramaswamy“So what I would tell Bibi is that Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend itself. I would tell him to smoke those terrorists on his southern border and then I’ll tell him as President of the United States, I’ll be smoking the terrorists on our southern border.”
Christie“[The] first thing I would say to Prime Minister Netanyahu is pretty simple: America is here no matter what it is you need at any time to preserve the state of Israel… Second, you must go in and make sure that Hamas can never do this again. The fact is that Israel and their intelligence community failed… And so we need to work closely and better together to make sure one, that they’re degraded and two, that we know everything that’s going on inside the Gaza Strip when it’s going on”


“[We] continue to isolate Iran, work with the reasonable nations in the Middle East, the other Arab nations who want to partner with you and make sure that we continue to isolate Iran so that their only friends in the world are the part of the evil foursome, China we Russia, Iran, and North Korea.”

Scott“I would say to President Biden, diplomacy only is a weak strategy, appeasement leads to war. From President Obama to President Biden, Obama sent millions to Iran, frankly, president Biden has hit billions to Iran. That is why I said that there’s blood dripping from the hands of President Obama and President Biden.. if you want to stop the 40 plus attacks on military personnel in the Middle East, you have to strike in Iran… you actually have to cut off the head of the snake and the head of the snake is Iran and not simply their proxies.”


“We need to focus specifically on providing Israel with the $14 billion that they need so that we show the world that we are 100% undeniably standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel.”


On February 24th, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, an extension of the Russo-Ukrainian War. The U.S. has provided 35 billion dollars of aid, for both military, financial, and humanitarian purposes. During this debate, the candidates discuss whether the U.S. should continue their funding, and if so, how much should be given to Ukraine, in reference to Biden’s plan to request a 100 billion dollar package to both Ukraine and Israel.

Ukraine (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“Biden wants $105 billion. 60, most of that’s Ukraine, including some of it going to pay pensions for bureaucrats and salaries. That is a totally ridiculous use of American tax dollars… We need to bring this war to an end.”
Haley“We’re driving Russia into China’s hands because of these foolish policies… No, I don’t think we should give them cash. I think we should give them the equipment and the ammunition to win”
Ramaswamy“I’m absolutely unpersuaded… Ukraine is not a paragon of democracy. This is a country that has banned 11 opposition parties. It has consolidated all media into one state TV media arm… It has threatened not to hold elections this year unless the U.S. forks over more money. That is not democratic. It has celebrated a Nazi in its ranks, the comedian in cargo pants, a man called Zelensky. Doing it in their own ranks, that is not democratic… The regions of Ukraine that are occupied by Russia right now, the Donbass, Luhansk, Donetsk, these are Russian-speaking regions that have not even been part of Ukraine since 2014”
Christie“Kristen, let’s remember the last time that we turned our back on a shooting war in Europe. It bought us just a couple of years and then 500,000 Americans were killed in Europe to defeat Hitler… In 1992, this country made a promise to Ukraine. We said if you return nuclear missiles that were part of the old Soviet Union to Russia and they invade you, we will protect you.”
Scott“I believe that ultimately we should make sure that the President of the United States states what is America’s national vital interest in Ukraine… Every day we get closer to the degradation of the Russian military, and that’s good news. But the American people are frustrated that they do not have a president who reminds us and tells us, where’s the accountability? How are those dollars being spent? We need those answers for us to continue to see the support for Ukraine.”


As mentioned in the article on the second Republican debate, China and the US have long held a tense relationship. In fact, many politicians and foreign policy analysts are discussing the possibility of it developing into a new cold war. Some people, in fact, claim it can already be considered one. Many Americans are wary of China and see it as a threat.

China (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“[If] China’s able to be the world’s leading superpower that will affect you and your family in ways that are going to be very bad. They will export authoritarianism all around the world as the cost of doing business. They will impose things like social credit scores and internet monitoring… I’ve already released a plan. We’re going to get to 355 ships at the end of the first term, 385 ships at the end of the second term, but we’re going to have a path to 600 ships over the next 20 years”
Haley“We need to do everything we can. The first thing is you go and you make sure you have the backs of Ukraine. That’s why the Taiwanese want us to support Ukraine because they know that sends the biggest message to China… The second thing is we go to China and we start being tough on them. No more sales of our American soil to China, and let’s take back what they’ve already stolen. Then you go to the universities. No more having millions of dollars go to our universities. Then we will go and end all formal trade relations with China until they stop murdering Americans from fentanyl, something Ron has yet to say that he’s going to do. And then we modernize our military. When we strengthen our military, when we modernize it with the focus of cyber, artificial intelligence, and space”
Ramaswamy“Our actual defense industrial base depends on China for the supply chain, for the F-35 jets, for the ships that we’re building. Think about this, why are we stockpiling that if it isn’t to actually be strong against our enemy, China? We depend on them for that, just like we depend on them for pharmaceuticals, just like we depend on them for semiconductors. So here’s why we can’t get tough with China. It’s because we depend on them for our modern way of life and we have to declare economic independence from our enemy… We need politicians who are independent of the forces that increase our dependence on China.”


“I think that we need to increase our naval capacity by at least 20% over the course of the next several years and be able to meet our AUKUS agreement standards. Right now, we are at risk of not even being able to meet our AUKUS standards with Australia and the UK. So what we need to do is have a plan that reverses the trajectory of the divest to invest program by 20% over the next three years.”

Christie“I know China is the enemy and that’s what we should be focused on. So let’s be really clear. The nuclear submarines in the United States Navy is the greatest deterrent to Chinese aggression, and that is the first place I would go to increase American naval power… And so we, as our first priority, need to go directly to our nuclear sub-program, Hugh, and we need to increase it drastically. That would be priority number one. Ships would come next, but to me the ships are the secondary choice here… But the other thing we could do to deter China is to let them know that the blood money they’re spending for Russia in Ukraine right now will not be effective. That we send Putin home with his tail between his legs and make them understand that the same fate waits for them if they decide to move towards Taiwan with a more aggressive nuclear subprogram, we’ll be able to make that threat real.”
Scott“In the Middle East, we are in the midst of trying to back our strongest ally. In Eastern Europe, we’ve seen our resources and our weaponry help degrade the Russian military. The Indo-Pacific, we have real challenges. The long-term threat, the long-term threat is China. [An immediate] threat is our southern border… In order for us to have the military to fight three different continents at the exact same time, we are going to have to invest heavily in our military”


“We should go to our southern border and close our southern border with the resources necessary. I believe that we have sleeper terrorist cells in America. Thousands of people have come from Yemen, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. If we are going to deal with the national security emergency at our border, we have to do it now.”


Many Republicans wish to ban TikTok, seeing it as a means of surveillance by China. China has a sizable economic influence on the U.S. and many people are worried about just how much control they have and wish to wrest at least a modicum of control back.

Tiktok (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“Yes, I think that China’s the top threat we face. They’ve been very effective at infiltrating different parts of our society.. it’s not just military, it’s economic and it’s cultural. And as the dad of a six, five, and a three-year-old, I’m concerned about the data that they’re getting from our young people and what they’re doing to pollute the minds of our young people. These kids get these devices and they have a mind of their own.”
HaleyHaley does not directly speak on whether or not she would ban TikTok but instead calls for a larger military. In the second Republican debate, however, she said that “TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we could have” and that “We can’t have TikTok in our kids’ lives. We need to ban it.”
Ramaswamy“[She] made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time… The easy answer is actually to say that we’re just going to ban one app… We have to ban any U.S. company actually transferring U.S. data to the Chinese. Here’s a story most people don’t know. Airbnb hands over U.S. user data to the CCP. Now that’s a U.S. owned company… stop U.S. companies from turning over data to Chinese companies. That’s the real answer.”
Christie“TikTok is not only spyware, it is polluting the minds of American young people all throughout this country and they’re doing it intentionally. And when you saw what happened in the last few weeks with all of this anti-Semitic, horrible stuff that their algorithms were pushing out at a gargantuan rate, this is China trying to further divide the United States of America… TikTok should be banned because they are poisoning American minds and I would do it week one.”
Scott“What we should do is ban TikTok, period. Now we saw under former President Trump, he tried to ban TikTok twice, but was struck down by our federal courts. If you cannot ban TikTok, you should eliminate the Chinese presence on the app, period. We also should provide, and my parents Bill of rights, we give parents the opportunity to give their kids permission under 14 to be on those apps.”


Currently, Venezuela is facing an economic crisis more severe than that of the Great Depression due to hyperinflation, economic mismanagement, and corruption. Over 7 million people have fled, mostly to Latin America and Colombia, and 4 million of those who remain need emergency food assistance throughout this month.

In addition, the former president Nicolás Maduro is attempting to win the presidency by denying the votes of those who oppose him in what some call a democratic crisis. The hosts ask whether or not the candidates would reimpose the sanctions placed on Venezuela.

Venezuela (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“Yes, absolutely.”
Haley“We need to make sure that we do everything we can to sanction Maduro. We shouldn’t be getting dirty oil and Biden just gave 500,000 Venezuelans temporary priority status, which is just going to have more of them come.”

In summation, the candidates are largely in favor of providing Israel with greater economic support in the Gaza strip conflict. They also wish to provide Ukraine more support, but wish to do so in the form of military supplies, citing lack of government transparency in where the billions of dollars of aid to Ukraine have really gone.

In regards to China, the candidates express worry over their naval and military power and state that if elected, they would seek to increase the number of ships and naval capacity in general. They also state that TikTok is a form of spyware and are in favor of banning it in the United States.

Finally, the candidates discuss the economic crisis and/or democratic crisis in Venezuela and whether or not economic sanctions should be placed on the government. They mostly agreed that yes, they should reimpose sanctions.

The Economy

Despite economic growth over the third quarter of 2023, people are unhappier than ever with it.  In fact, 71% of Americans say the economy is doing poorly, 84% of Americans say living costs are rising, and while the GDP is at a two-year high, having increased by 4.9%, and unemployment is at a 53-year low (see unemployment rates from 1890 to 1988 and 1990 to 2022, as well as from 2022 to 2023) inflation hit a 42-year high last summer.

In the following section, the candidates discuss how to handle it.

The Economy (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“I’m going to take all the executive orders, the regulations, everything involving Bidenomics, I’m going to rip it up and I’m going to throw it in the trashcan on day one where it belongs. That is going to give the economy breathing room and I’m also going to reign in the Federal Reserve. ”
Haley“I’ll eliminate the federal gas and diesel tax in this country. We’ll cut taxes on the middle class, but we have to stop the spending binge that’s happening by Republicans and Democrats in Congress. I will make sure, one, we claw back the $500 billion of unspent COVID dollars that are out there. Instead of 87,000 IRS agents going after middle America, we’ll go after the hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID fraud that exist, $1 out of every $7. We’ll stop the spending, we’ll stop the borrowing, we’ll eliminate the earmarks and I’ll veto any spending bill that doesn’t go back to pre-COVID levels. That will cut trillions and allow us to be safe. We also need to be, not energy independent, energy dominant… But the reason no one should give you a number Hugh on the amount of ships in the Navy, is because in a few years our interest expense is going to be more than our defense budget. So no one can give you that number realistically without first tackling what’s happening with the financial situation.”
Ramaswamy“Increase the supply of everything… Increase the supply of energy, that brings down the cost of energy, grows the economy. Drill, frack, burn coal, embrace nuclear. Increase the supply of labor in this country. Stop using our taxpayer money to pay people more to stay at home instead of to go to work. Increase the supply of housing… The land use restrictions are constricting the supply of housing. That’s making housing more expensive for ordinary Americans across this country… [Implement] zero based budgeting by the way to take on the federal debt, to get this job done.”
Christie“[Energy] is the key to this… when you go ahead and you tell people we are going to unleash every bit of American energy, every bit of its potential… the prices go down”
Scot“The first thing I would do as President of the United States is I would sign the XL Keystone Pipeline and start seeing resources flow… We should focus not just on being energy independent, we should focus on being energy dominant. America is the home to more energy resources than any other country on the planet. We can reduce the price of energy, we can reduce the price of food and the price of electricity if we focus on my build here, don’t borrow from China plan. That is embedded in The Made in America strategy, creates 10 million new jobs in three different areas. One is innovation, second is the high-tech manufacturing and the third is the energy economy. We have an opportunity as Americans to actually export the surplus energy that we create in our nation and disconnect from China and from murderous dictators and tyrants around the world.”

As usual, the Republican candidates discuss cutting taxes and spending, as well as opening up the energy industry, which is currently stoppered up in an attempt to slow down climate change.

Social Security

Republicans generally want to lower social security but as their voter base is comprised of more middle-aged and senior voters, who tend to be against that, they either have no choice but to compromise or evade questions on the topic.

Social Security (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“What can you do to help shore up Social Security? One of the things that’s causing problems is the inflation. We have to reduce inflation. When you have higher inflation, the seniors get a cost of living adjustment, which means the program’s spending more, but it doesn’t cover the increase in the actual inflation rate. We also do need to get to at least 3% growth, you’re never going to be able to have issues be able to solve the budget without that.”
Haley“Social Security will go bankrupt in 10 years, medicare will go bankrupt in eight… We should limit benefits on the wealthy… And then expand Medicare advantage plans. Seniors love that and let’s make sure we do that so that they can have more competition. That’s how we’ll deal with entitlement reform and that’s how we’ll start to pay down this debt.”
Ramaswamy“[Leave] Social Security and Medicare benefits for current seniors intact.”
Christie“There are only three things that go into determining whether Social Security can be solvent or not. Retirement age, eligibility for the program in general and taxes. That’s it. We are already overtaxed in this country and we should not raise those taxes. But on eligibility also, I don’t know if out there tonight and if you’re watching Warren, I don’t know if Warren Buffett is collecting Social Security, but if he is, shame on you… Rich people should not be collecting Social Security.”
Scott“[As] President of the United States I will protect your Social Security. The fact is that we’re spending today about $1.1 trillion on Social Security, about $750 billion on Medicare, about $300 billion on Medicaid, about $400 billion on veterans benefits, $1.7 trillion on annual appropriations… The way you deal with it is, number one, you have to grow your economy.”

For the most part, the candidates discuss reducing the amount of social security collected by rich people, the riskiness inherent in the high costs of social security, as well as possible ways to preserve it, mostly evading the question on whether or not they would increase the eligible age to receive social security.

The Southern Border

For a long time, the southern border has been an issue of contention due to undocumented/illegal immigration and fentanyl smuggling. Trump made building a wall at the Mexican border one of the selling points of his campaign in 2016, but did not meet his word during his presidency, a fact which many of the candidates deride in an attempt to reduce the current leading candidate’s popularity.

The Southern Border (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“We’re declaring it a national emergency on day one. I’m sending US military to the border. I’m going to stop the invasion cold. I am going to deport people who came illegally and I’m even going to build the border wall and have Mexico pay for it like Donald Trump promised… How are you going to do it? Yeah, Mexico’s not going to fork over money. We’re going to impose fees on the remittances that foreign workers send to foreign countries… But we are going to designate the cartels to be foreign terrorist organizations or something similar to that and we’re going to authorize the use of deadly force.”
Haley“[You] have to go to the source. We have lost more Americans [by fentanyl overdose] in the Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars combined. We lost 75,000 Americans last year. Go to the source. It is the reason why we’ll continue to say we will end all normal trade relations with China until they stop murdering Americans… The second thing is we’ll send special operations in to take out the cartels. We need to go to where they’re distributing it, where the supply centers are and take them out. We’ll put 25,000 more Border Patrol and ICE agents on the ground and let them do their job. We will defund sanctuary cities. We will go back to the Remain in Mexico policy so that everybody stays in Mexico and they never get here in the first place… But I do agree with Chris. One of the first things that we have to do is really focus on mental health and addiction centers.”
Ramaswamy“I hope to build a good relationship with that next president of Mexico. We’ll use our own military to seal our own southern border… And then the other thing that hasn’t been discussed is the northern border. I’m the only candidate on the stage as far as I’m aware, who has actually visited the northern border. There was enough fentanyl that was captured just on the northern border last year to kill 3 million Americans… Don’t just build the wall, build both walls.”
Christie“[We] have to beef up what our law enforcement has in terms of technology… Secondly, on day one, I would sign an executive order that would send the National Guard to partner with Customs and Border Patrol, both at ports of entry and at the open ports of our border… Now, we also need to lower demand [of fentanyl] in this country. And the way to lower demand is to start treating people again… we’re going to call this what it is. It is a disease like heart disease, diabetes, or any other disease like cancer that can be treated, should be treated.”
Scott“[We] should close our southern border. For $10 billion we could close our southern border. For an additional $5 billion, we could use the currently available military technology to surveil our southern border to stop fentanyl from crossing our border… The military grade technology is a backup, making sure that we not only stop 70,000 deaths in the last 12 months because of fentanyl. It also allows us to deal with the human trafficking travesty that is entering in our country in the same path. If we are going to deal effectively.”

In conclusion, the candidates wish to use military personnel and technology to prevent drug smuggling and undocumented immigration at the southern border.


The overturning of Roe v. Wade, which has long been something Republicans have been aiming for, has resulted in a relative lull in discussion over abortion. The candidates, having achieved their main goal, understand that while they may personally believe abortion should be banned outright, that it isn’t legislatively feasible.

Abortion (third republican debate for 2024 election)

DeSantis“We’re better off when we can promote a culture of life. At the same time, I understand that some of these states are doing it a little bit different… So you got to work from the bottom up. You got to do a better job on these referenda. I think of all the stuff that’s happened to the pro-life cause, they have been caught flatfooted on these referenda and they have been losing the referenda… But let’s just be clear, the Democrats have taken a position, they will not identify the point at which there should be any protection all the way up until birth. That is wrong and we cannot stand for that.”
Haley“I think you have to be honest with the American people. This is a personal issue for every woman and every man… Having said that, when you look post-Roe, a wrong was made right. They took it out of the hands of unelected justices and they put it in the hands of the people and now we’re seeing states vote. And what I’ll tell you is as much as I’m pro-life, I don’t judge anyone for being pro-choice and I don’t want them to judge me for being pro-life. So when we’re looking at this, there are some states that are going more on the pro-life side. I welcome that there’s some states that are going more on the pro-choice side… But when it comes to the federal law, which is what’s being debated here, be honest, it’s going to take 60 Senate votes, a majority of the House and a president to sign it… We don’t need to divide America over this issue anymore.”
Ramaswamy“It was my home state of Ohio, I’m upset about this, yesterday that passed a constitutional amendment that now effectively codifies a right to abortion all the way up to the time of birth without parental consent.”
Christie“I trust the people of this country, state by state, to make the call for themselves.”
Scott“We need a 15-week federal limit. Three out of four Americans agree with a 15-week limit, 47 out of 50 countries in Europe agree with a 15-week limit…I would challenge both Nikki and Ron to join me at a 15-week limit… In my parents’ plan, we start by talking about funding block granting resources to crisis pregnancy centers. We should support adoption… We should not only be pro-life before the child is born, we should be pro-life after the child is born just as much.”

Most of the candidates express satisfaction with the current state of things, but a few of them discuss shortening the overall time span in which abortion is legal.

What’s Next

So what are the candidates seeking? They want to provide economic aid to Israel in the Israel-Hamas war and to provide supplies and technical assistance to Ukraine. They also wish to reimpose sanctions on Venezuela and to increase border control in the south.

In terms of the economy, the candidates propose cutting taxes and limiting government spending, as well as opening up the energy industry.

Tentatively, they also hint at perhaps reducing the scope of social security and of abortion but, due to worries over the public opinion, try to avoid these topics.

More information about each of the individual candidates, their political bias, and policy ratings, can be found in Biasly’s Politician Ratings.


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