Ramaswamy draws fire on Ukraine: ‘Putin and President Xi are salivating’

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during the NBC News Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County on November 8, 2023 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Ramaswamy drew a stinging rebuke from Haley after he repeated his opposition to the U.S. assisting Ukraine as it fends off invading Russian forces.

The entrepreneur decried the “Ukraine hawks” on stage, calling out Haley, before stating that Ukraine is “not a paragon of democracy” and referring to the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “comedian in cargo pants.”

Haley replied: “I’m telling you, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and President Xi [Jinping of China] are salivating at the thought that someone like that could become president.”

Christie followed up with another shot at Ramaswamy, warning, “those of us who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

Kevin Breuninger

DeSantis says he would stand with Israel as war with Hamas drags into second month

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during the third Republican presidential primary debate at the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, on November 8, 2023.

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

Ron DeSantis said that under his administration the United States would stand with Israel as Tel Aviv’s war with Hamas drags into its second month.

“They’re massacring innocent people, they would wipe out every Jew,” DeSantis said referencing Hamas.

DeSantis said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “cannot live with that threat right by his country.”

He also called on Hamas to release all hostages immediately.

— Amanda Macias

Ramaswamy rips Haley: ‘Dick Cheney in three-inch heels’

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during the third Republican presidential primary debate at the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, on November 8, 2023.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Vivek Ramaswamy threw the hardest punches of the night so far, accusing Haley of profiting off her political career and hurling an insult at DeSantis.

After claiming President Biden “sold off our foreign policy,” Ramaswamy said, “The Republican Party is not that much better.”

“You have the likes of Nikki Haley, who stepped down from her time at the UN bankrupt or in debt,” he said. “Then she becomes a military contractor. joins the board of Boeing and otherwise, and is now a multimillionaire. I think that that’s wrong and or Democrats do it.”

Ramaswamy added: “Do you want a leader from a different generation who’s going to put this country first, or do you want Dick Cheney in three-inch heels?”

He suggested there were two others on stage who matched that description, a reference to a recent meme about DeSantis wearing height-boosting shoes. DeSantis has denied those rumors.

Haley shot back: “They’re five-inch heels, and I don’t wear them unless you can run in them.”

Kevin Breuninger

Christie warns Trump cannot lead U.S. while trying to stay ‘out of jail’

Former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie speaks during the third Republican presidential primary debate at the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, on November 8, 2023.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Chris Christie said that Donald Trump’s criminal cases make him unable to lead either the Republican Party or the United States.

“I’ll say this about Donald Trump,” Christie said. “Anybody who’s going to be spending the next year-and-a-half of their life focusing on keeping themselves out of jail and courtrooms cannot lead this party or this country.”

Trump faces the prospect of going on trial in four separate criminal cases in 2024, two of them in federal courts.

— Dan Mangan

Nikki Haley says Trump ‘ I don’t think he’s the right president’ this time

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks at the third Republican candidates’ U.S. presidential debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 8, 2023. 

Mike Segar | Reuters

Nikki Haley said former President Donald Trump is not the right person to be next commander in chief.

“I don’t think he’s the right president now,” Haley said. “I think that he put us $8 trillion in debt, and our kids are never going to forgive us for that.”

“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, I think that we’ve got to go back to the fact that we can’t live in the past,” Haley added.

— Brian Schwartz

DeSantis hits Trump: ‘I’m sick of Republicans losing’

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the third Republican candidates’ U.S. presidential debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 8, 2023. 

Mike Segar | Reuters

Ron DeSantis attacked Donald Trump in his first answer of the night, accusing the former president and GOP leader of failing to achieve what he promised in his first White House term.

“Donald Trump’s a lot different guy than he was in 2016,” DeSantis said when asked why he should be selected as the GOP nominee instead of Trump.

“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,” the Florida governor said.

“I’m sick of Republicans losing in Florida,” he added.

Kevin Breuninger

Ramaswamy hits DeSantis for targeting Florida students who back Palestinians

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy pose together onstage at the third Republican candidates’ U.S. presidential debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 8, 2023. 

Mike Segar | Reuters

Vivek Ramaswamy lashed out at Ron DeSantis before the debate, calling the Florida governor’s recent targeting of the Students for Justice in Palestine group “a First Amendment violation.”

DeSantis last month ordered state universities to disband chapters of the group, saying “You don’t have a First Amendment right to provide material support to terrorists.”

Ramaswamy, speaking on the comedian Dave Smith’s podcast, said, “This is post-9-11 stuff here. This is Dick Cheney, Patriot Act stuff here in this country.”

“These kids weren’t providing munitions and money to Hamas,” Ramaswamy said. “They were tweeting in favor of Palestinians. And to call that material support and then to ban them, that’s a First Amendment violation.”

“I like deeply believe in the free speech thing, because it’s the thing that defines the country.”

— Dan Mangan

Meanwhile, Biden directs air strike on Iranian facility in Syria

US President Joe Biden joins Israel’s Prime Minister for the start of the Israeli war cabinet meeting, in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. 

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

While the Republican contenders prepare to vie for the GOP presidential nomination, the current occupant of the Oval Office directed an air strike in Syria.

President Joe Biden authorized a bombing on the facility used by Iranian-backed militias after several incidents of attacks on U.S. forces. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the announcement Wednesday evening.

The attack comes as the United States seeks to avoid the war in Gaza ballooning into a larger regional conflict.

Emma Kinery

Nikki Haley could draw undecided wealthy donors off the sidelines to back her

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks during the second Republican candidates’ debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, September 27, 2023.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Former United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has a rare chance at Wednesday’s debate to reel in undecided wealthy donors who have so far sat on the sidelines of the 2024 presidential election.

Haley is surging in the polls, and has pulled even with fellow primary contender Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a new Iowa poll. The survey showed former President Donald Trump leading them both among likely Republican Iowa caucus participants.

Still, for Haley there are a number of wealthy financiers, including Thomas Peterffy, the founder of stock brokerage firm Interactive Brokers, who have yet to decide the candidate they want to support.

“Anyone I will support will have to undertake, whatever their personal belief, to protect individual rights to self determination and that should include abortion,” Peterffy said in an email to CNBC when asked who he’s watching at the debate in Miami.

— Brian Schwartz

Here’s who you won’t see at tonight’s debate

Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives to speak at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 28, 2023. 

Steve Marcus | Reuters

The debate will feature a smaller field of candidates than the eight at the first GOP debate in August, after a number of contenders dropped out of the race altogether, and others did not make the cut for Wednesday’s showdown.

Former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his campaign on Oct. 28.

Earlier in the summer, businessman Perry Johnson, talk radio host Larry Elder, ex-Rhode Island mayor Steve Laffey, former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez all dropped out or suspended their campaigns.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who remains a candidate, failed to make the cut for Wednesday’s debate, after qualifying for the prior two. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also failed to meet the benchmarks, which were set by the Republican National Committee.

– Dan Mangan

How Trump has counter-programmed the three GOP primary debates

Former U.S. President Donald J. Trump leaves the stage after speaking to supporters at a Team Trump Nevada Commit to Caucus rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 28, 2023. 

Steve Marcus | Reuters

Trump will once again be counter-programming the primary debate, as he tries to snuff out his remaining Republican opponents without giving them a chance to challenge him directly.

An hour before the third debate is set to begin in Miami, Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks at a campaign rally in nearby Hialeah.

It’s a similar playbook to the one he has followed for the prior two GOP debates.

Instead of attending the first debate in late August, Trump sat for a pre-taped an interview with former Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson that aired just before the GOP candidates took the stage.

When seven candidates met for the second debate a month later, Trump hosted an event in Detroit aimed at courting union workers — a group with whom President Joe Biden has long expressed solidarity. Trump’s speech, which came during a historic auto strike, was held at a nonunion factory.

Whether or not his latest speech makes waves, Trump’s absence alone could damage his rivals, as fewer potential voters may tune in without the attention-magnet ex-president on stage.

Kevin Breuninger

Democrats’ electoral wins put abortion back in focus

Kentucky incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is joined by his wife, Britainy Beshear (R), Kentucky Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman (C-L) and his family as he delivers his victory speech to a crowd at an election night event at Old Forrester’s Paristown Hall on November 7, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Stephen Cohen | Getty Images

Abortion will likely be a hot topic in the third debate, after Republicans once again took a beating at the ballot box in key state elections Tuesday that were widely seen as a test of whether abortion rights could mobilize voters.

The races varied, but the Republican losses were the same in all. The Kentucky governor’s race, where Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear was reelected, an Ohio ballot initiative that enshrined abortion rights in the state’s constitution, and Virginia’s legislature, where Democrats won both control of both chambers.

For Trump’s GOP rivals, the results offered a chance to present themselves as more electable alternatives to Trump.

“Outside of a few states, Republicans have consistently underperformed over the past few election cycles,” Ron DeSantis wrote on X on Wednesday morning.

Nikki Haley’s reaction was even more blunt. “Trump is a loser. DeSantis is a loser. Haley is a winner,” her team wrote in a campaign email Wednesday.

The results offer yet more proof that voters have been galvanized in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Kevin Breuninger

DeSantis and Haley seem poised to attack each other on stage

Republican U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley registers for the South Carolina 2024 presidential primary ballot at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S. October 30, 2023. 

Sam Wolfe | Reuters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley could move to attack each other early in the debate, as they battle it out for second place in polls that show both of them still well below Donald Trump’s support.

Haley’s campaign sent out a memo Wednesday highlighting her polling ahead of DeSantis in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and pulling even with him in Iowa. The memo also listed some of what it called DeSantis’ “many lies.”

Later Wednesday, a new Marquette Law School poll of Wisconsin voters showed Trump trailing President Joe Biden by just two percentage points, but both DeSantis and Haley beating Biden if they were the Republican nominees respectively. Haley held a nine-point lead over Biden among Wisconsin voters, while DeSantis had just a two-point edge.

– Dan Mangan

Trump says he’d consider some on debate stage as running mates — and Tucker Carlson

Former President Donald Trump (L) and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson (R)

Reuters (L) | Getty Images (R)

Donald Trump said Wednesday he would consider one of the five candidates at the debate as a running mate — along with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson — if he wins the GOP presidential nomination next year.

“Look, some of them I like a lot,” Trump said of the other candidates during an interview on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton radio show.

“I respect a number of them and some I have no respect.”

“I like Tucker a lot,” Trump later said. “I guess I would I think I’d say I would [consider him as a running mate] because he’s got great common sense.”

– Dan Mangan

What is Trump doing instead of debating?

Former U.S. President and current Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa, U.S. October 29, 2023. 

Scott Morgan | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump, who is the clear front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination, is skipping the debate — but won’t be far away from the Miami event.

Trump is set to speak at a rally in Hialeah, Florida, at the Ted Hendrick Stadium starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Trump supporter Jill Vandusen, who was waiting to attend the rally, told Local 10 News that his decision to hold the event near the debate location is “strategic.”

“They can’t compete with him,” Vandusen said.

– Dan Mangan

A battle for second place: No-show Trump still dominates the polls

Former US President and 2024 Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at Trendsetter Engineering, Inc. in Houston, Texas, on November 2, 2023.

Mark Felix | AFP | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump justified skipping the first two Republican debates by arguing that he saw no point in sharing the stage with candidates who trail him by wide margins.

Hours out from the third debate, that situation hasn’t changed.

Average national polls of the primary race show that Trump’s lead has only grown in recent months, in large part by cutting into the support for his top rival, DeSantis.

The Florida governor now faces an imminent threat from Haley to surpass him as the top non-Trump alternative.

Trump, meanwhile, has hosted fewer rallies than in his prior campaigns, and much of his recent coverage in the media has been focused on his legal troubles. But none of that appears to have damaged his standing in the polls — including in surveys of states that will be pivotal for the primary and the general election.

Recent polls from The New York Times and Siena College found Trump leading President Joe Biden in five major battleground states, triggering some anxiety among the current president’s supporters that was only partly assuaged by strong Democratic showings in state elections Tuesday night.

Trump’s team, meanwhile, has already declared that the primary is effectively over.

“Tomorrow’s debate will be a dumping ground for every single loser candidate to foolishly fight for distant second place,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a campaign email Tuesday.

‎— Kevin Breuninger

Polls show a two-person contest emerging between Haley and DeSantis

Former Governor from South Carolina and UN ambassador Nikki Haley looks on as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during the second Republican presidential primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on September 27, 2023.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Polls and experts say the Republican primarily field is increasingly looking like a two-person contest between former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to see who will challenge former President Donald Trump for the nomination.

After a lackluster spring, Haley has quickly risen to second place in polls of voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the first three states to hold primaries early next year.

The former South Carolina governor has surged 10 points in Iowa to tie DeSantis for second place, according to the latest NBC News/Des Moines Register poll. Iowa will hold the first GOP caucuses on Jan. 15. Haley has surpassed DeSantis in New Hampshire and South Carolina, according to recent polls.

Now she threatens to displace DeSantis as the GOP’s preferred alternative to Trump.

Even so, Trump still holds a seemingly insurmountable lead over his rivals. The former president is skipping Wednesday’s debate.

— Spencer Kimball

The 5 Republicans who qualified for the presidential primary debate

Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, left, and Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, during a break in the Republican primary presidential debate hosted by Fox Business Network in Simi Valley, California, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.

Eric Thayer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Just five Republican candidates qualified and will participate in the Miami debate hosted by NBC News.

They are former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, the businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Donald Trump, the former president, as the front-runner in the GOP nomination race more than qualified for the debate. But for the third time this election cycle he has declined to debate his opponents.

To qualify for the debate, the quintet that is participating had to have at least 70,000 unique donors garnered at least 4% in two national polls or one national and one early-state poll that met Republican National Committee requirements.

– Dan Mangan

A good night in Miami could boost Ron DeSantis’ campaign fundraising

Republican U.S. presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis greets his supporters during the Never Back Down South Carolina Bus Tour at Revel Events Center in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S., October 4, 2023. 

Alyssa Pointer | Reuters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ debate performance in Miami could be a boost to his fundraising, already on the upswing since he was endorsed by Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds.

DeSantis, who raised over $15 million in the third quarter, could see an uptick in fundraising if he does well in the debate. The contest in Miami comes just days after Reynolds endorsed him over former President Donald Trump and other Republican primary contenders.

The latest debate for DeSantis comes at a time when a few of the Republican Party’s wealthiest donors are opting not to help him, at least for now.

DeSantis has already seen previous big money supporters, such as Citadel CEO Ken Griffin and businessman Robert Bigelow, have each distanced themselves from the Florida’s governor’s bid for president. Griffin, a previous DeSantis donor, recently told CNBC that he’s remaining on the sidelines for now of the 2024 presidential election.

Bigelow, who gave over $20 million to a pro-DeSantis super PAC, recently said in an interview with the Financial Times that he may end up backing Trump.

– Brian Schwartz

How to watch the Republican presidential debate

The stage is pictured during a media walkthrough ahead of the 3rd Republican presidential debate which will be held November 8 by NBC News in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 7, 2023. 

Mike Segar | Reuters

Viewers can watch the debate starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBC TV channel. It will also be streamed live and for free on NBC News NOW, which is available on NBCNews.com, Peaock and other streaming services.

The showdown, hosted by NBC News, is being held in Miami at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.

The Salem Radio Network and the Republican Jewish Coalition are also partners in the event.

– Dan Mangan

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