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*** GOP Debate Livewire *** And Then There Were Five Left on Stage As Donald Trump Rallies

The GOP clown car primary for everyone not named Donald Trump is getting roomier, ever so slightly, as now there only remain five Trump opponents on the debate stage as candidates meet in Miami, Florida, for the third GOP presidential primary debate.

Former President Donald Trump, the far-and-away frontrunner who is essentially the presumptive GOP nominee with his gargantuan polling lead even though nobody has voted yet, will hold a counter-programming rally down the street in nearby Hialeah, Florida. Most Republicans will probably watch Trump instead of the debate, which is set to be moderated by NBC News’s Lester Holt and Kristen Welker and Salem’s Hugh Hewitt. Nonetheless, here we are for the first GOP debate this cycle not moderated by one of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News or Fox Business properties.

Given the abysmal ratings of the first two and the failure of anyone not named Trump to break through in the GOP primary — the only thing bigger than Trump’s polling lead is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s high heels hidden inside his boots — pressure is building intensely on the Republican National Committee (RNC) to call it after this one and not have any more debates. The RNC has not scheduled another one yet, and assuming this one is as much of a train wreck as the first two for Republicans, then it is likely that will be all she wrote — unless the RNC is a glutton for punishment and decides to announce another one, which is, of course, a possibility given how wise Republicans have proven to be lately.

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 the Republican primary presidential debate hosted by Fox Business Network in Simi Valley, California, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. The auto workers strike, the looming government shutdown and a renewed focus on abortion rights all set the backdrop for the second Republican primary debate today. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis at the Republican primary presidential debate hosted by Fox Business Network in Simi Valley, California, on September 27, 2023. (Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

So, with all that said, this is the last chance of last chances for everyone up there. Former Vice President Mike Pence dropped out of the race since the second debate, and the push for DeSantis, for former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and for businessman Vivek Ramaswamy to do the same will almost certainly intensify aggressively after Wednesday night. As evidenced by Tuesday’s election results where Democrats slightly exceeded expectations — no, it was not 2022 all over again, but they did hold Kentucky’s governor’s mansion and flipped one-half of one state’s legislature their way by winning a handful of House of Delegates seats in Virginia — the Republicans have a heck of a battle ahead of them heading into 2024, and the time for games is basically over. Congress just went through a disastrous month for Republicans after eight House GOP members joined all the Democrats to oust now-former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) before a series of multiple speakership elections eventually elevated the Louisiana back-bencher Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) to the speakership. After that fiasco, voters are now looking for certainty and stability from the GOP–and the lack of a serious path forward for anyone not named Trump is likely to lead Republicans nationwide to move away from the others rather than towards them after this debate heading into the critical final weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

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Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) takes the oath to be the new House Speaker from Dean of the House Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on October 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

How the GOP will confront the thorny issue of abortion — the other big result on Tuesday, while no surprise, was Ohio’s ballot referendum protecting abortion — may begin to come into focus on Wednesday evening both at Trump’s rally and at the debate. But Republicans need to address it and have an answer to it.

But perhaps the biggest story of the night could be DeSantis and how he confronts his failures as a presidential candidate. He has dropped double digits in polls everywhere, has fallen out of second place in every early state — he is in third or worse in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and has fallen to a second-place-tie with Haley in Iowa — and his event on Monday where Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed him already seems to have been another failure as it has only dragged him down with Reynolds’ unpopularity instead of lifting him up. The race has gotten increasingly personal, too, as DeSantis’s choice of footwear has become a running joke about the Florida governor — he wears boots that seem to have lifts in them while falsely claiming to be 5-foot-11-inches tall — and the Trump team guts him nonstop in deeply nasty ways. Whether his brewing rivalry with Haley — and his long-running one with Ramaswamy — brings these nasty attacks to the debate stage on Wednesday evening remains to be seen, but if he does not move up in polls very, very, very soon, things could get a lot worse than just not winning the GOP nomination for him.

As everything kicks off Wednesday night, follow along here on Breitbart News for live updates, breaking news, and analysis throughout the evening.

UPDATE 10:04 p.m. ET:

The debate is concluded now, but Ramaswamy’s closing statement was probably the strongest in that he urged everyone to understand the U.S. is in a “war” at home for what kind of country America is going to be. That’s where most of the base is.

UPDATE 9:54 p.m. ET:

Closing statements are beginning now, and it’s clear Ramaswamy was again the breakout star of the evening–and the biggest loser on the stage was obviously DeSantis. DeSantis was a mess on several major issues, from abortion to Social Security to China and more. His lies about China buying land in Florida were brutal and will be a major inflection point in the coming days.

UPDATE 9:43 p.m. ET:

The discussions shifts to abortion, where DeSantis goes first. Haley goes second and gives an impassioned answer. Scott is up now.

UPDATE 9:38 p.m. ET:

Haley in her answer again says she agrees with Christie–a brewing storyline here tonight is the growing closeness of the two of them as candidates. The two of them have played off each other a lot tonight.

UPDATE 9:34 p.m. ET:

Both Scott and Christie seemingly avoid zoning in on the core issues of immigration, with Hewitt’s help, in focusing the conversation on fentanyl. Fentanyl is a huge issue, but the lack of serious discussion about the massive cultural and economic impacts of immigration among these people on the kiddie table debate stage is a big part of why Trump is leading all of them combined.

UPDATE 9:31 p.m. ET:

FINALLY. 90 minutes–NINETY MINUTES–WELL MORE THAN AN HOUR–into the two hour debate, the moderators ask about the border. Finally.

UPDATE 9:26 p.m. ET:

DeSantis repeatedly dodging questions on Social Security is a huge part of why he is losing the GOP primary.

UPDATE 9:17 p.m. ET:

More on the DeSantis China lies here:

No wonder why the DeSantis flunkies at his Super PAC Never Back Down are spreading disinformation in a desperate bid to defend him. The Florida governor was caught in a major lie on the debate stage tonight.

UPDATE 9:14 p.m. ET:

More and more evidence is emerging that DeSantis lied to the America public on the debate stage tonight–and that Haley was absolutely correct about his record on allowing Chinese Communists into Florida:

The website she was referring to was removed right after a story exposed it all.

UPDATE 9:07 p.m. ET:

Now, finally, more than an hour into the debate, the conversation turns to the economy. Talk about America Last.

UPDATE 9:05 p.m. ET:

It’s more than an hour into the debate and the entire debate except for the opening questions has been all about foreign policy. They have hit the Middle East, Russia and Ukraine, China, and now Venezuela. Zero domestic issues discussed so far. Which country is next?

UPDATE 9:02 p.m. ET:

Things are getting really nasty between the candidates. Haley called Ramaswamy “scum,” and the two of them are duking it out on Haley’s record on China.

UPDATE 9:01 p.m. ET:

Ramaswamy attacks Haley for her daughter using TikTok while she was mocking him for campaigning on the platform.

UPDATE 8:59 p.m. ET:

Haley is lighting up DeSantis for his weakness on China, and how he is allowing Chinese military enterprises to operate inside the state of Florida.

UPDATE 8:58 p.m. ET:

Back from commercial break, and Hugh Hewitt is asking the candidates if they would ban TikTok. Christie says he would. DeSantis says he would.

UPDATE 8:56 p.m. ET:

It’s worth noting Ramaswamy’s attack on DeSantis allowing Chinese Communists to buy up land near a military base in Florida is absolutely true. The New York Post exposed DeSantis’s weakness on China this week.

UPDATE 8:50 p.m. ET:

While there have been quite a few barbs back and forth between the various candidates, the moderators are desperately avoiding the debate devolving into back-and-forth between them all. Ramaswamy hammers DeSantis, too, for allowing the Chinese Communists to buy land in Florida.

UPDATE 8:45 p.m. ET:

DeSantis attacks Haley on China, arguing she “welcomed” Chinese Communists into South Carolina. Haley raises her hand to respond, but the moderators do not turn to her. What might come next could be huge when Haley is up again.

UPDATE 8:41 p.m. ET:

The crowd in the debate hall does not really like these people–and they want Trump–as a chant broke out during the commercial break for Trump there:

UPDATE 8:40 p.m. ET:

Christie backs up Haley, arguing it is “not a choice” for Americans whether their tax dollars keep flowing to far-distant lands like Ukraine.

UPDATE 8:38 p.m. ET:

Haley fires back in her answer, arguing that Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping “are salivating” at the possibility that Ramaswamy could become president. She then continues to argue for more taxpayer dollars to go to Ukraine.

UPDATE 8:37 p.m. ET:

Ramaswamy outright bashes Ukraine funding, arguing that Ukraine is not a bastion of democracy–and also argues that others on the stage are coming around to his position. He attacks Haley again, arguing that she wants to use U.S. taxpayer money to fund the banning of Christians in Ukraine.

UPDATE 8:35 p.m. ET:

Scott goes all in for more Ukraine funding. He argues that breaking down the Russian military is in the American national interest. He also attacks Biden’s package for Israel and Ukraine aid package, saying tying the two together is wrong. He also argues that the U.S. needs to seal the border, and argues that there are terrorists in the United States now.

Scott equivocates a bit later when asked again by Welker.

UPDATE 8:28 p.m. ET:

Scott says he would deport people in the country who espouse antisemitism if they are here on a student visa. DeSantis echoes Scott in his answer.

UPDATE 8:25 p.m. ET:

Brooks’s second and final question, over Jewish students in the country feeling unsafe over pro-Palestinian protesters, defends Jewish students and calls for leaders at the top of schools across the country to block antisemitism. He fires at DeSantis and Haley, too, for trying to engage in censorship.

UPDATE 8:24 p.m. ET:

Donald Trump Jr., at his father’s rally across town, bashes Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell:

UPDATE 8:22 p.m. ET:

Haley fires back finally–after getting asked a question from the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Matt Brooks about Iranian-backed proxies attacking U.S. forces in the region–about her heels, noting they are five inch heels and says she wears them not for fashion purposes but for “ammunition.”

UPDATE 8:19 p.m. ET:

The first high heels line of the night came from Ramaswamy at Haley. He called her Dick Cheney in heels:

But there are some who think he might DeSantis:

UPDATE 8:17 p.m. ET:

Ramaswamy says he supports Israel smoking out the terrorists on its border, but is wary of the United States getting dragged into another war in the Middle East. He attacks Haley for joining the board of Boeing–and warns against neocons. Haley does not respond.

UPDATE 8:15 p.m. ET:

Both DeSantis and Haley are arguing that Israel needs to eliminate Hamas. “Finish them,” Haley says. She also argues the Iranians are behind forces of evil throughout the Middle East.

UPDATE 8:12 p.m. ET:

Christie is next, and he goes on a rant about Vladimir Putin. Then Scott, and he’s talking about values the nation needs to emulate.

UPDATE 8:09 p.m. ET:

Ramaswamy is next, same question. He says the GOP has become a “party of losers,” and attacks RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and calls for her resignation. Then he attacks the RNC for bringing in NBC anchors to moderate the GOP debate–arguing that it should be Tucker Carlson and Elon Musk moderating instead. Then, Ramaswamy fires a question at Kristen Welker who just smiles and refuses to answer it.

UPDATE 8:06 p.m. ET:

Second question, the same one that went to DeSantis, goes to Haley. She says Trump was the right president in 2016 but not the right president now. She attacks Trump for “being friendly” when it comes to Ukraine.

UPDATE 8:05 p.m. ET:

The first question goes to DeSantis who is asked why Trump should not be the nominee. He attacks Trump for not coming to the debate. DeSantis argued that he is sick of Republicans losing, and argues Trump is the cause for it.

UPDATE 8:04 p.m. ET:

Moderator Lester Holt admonishes candidates to not talk over each other or risk losing future questions. Strong start.

UPDATE 8:02 p.m. ET:

The debate is beginning now with the moderators introducing themselves and the candidates.

UPDATE 7:57 p.m. ET:

Looks like the DeSantis campaign screwed up bad before their candidate even took the stage:

By using the word “heels,” the DeSantis campaign is–whether on purpose or accidentally, not that it really matters–playing right into the caricature of the race Trump has portrayed. The Trump team, of course, is all too happy to rub it in:

UPDATE 7:50 p.m. ET:

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s eldest son, knocked it out of the park at the Hialeah rally tonight. Here’s a clip:

UPDATE 7:47 p.m. ET:

There’s a massive crowd there for Trump in Hialeah:

UPDATE 7:45 p.m. ET:

Democrats in Florida are already out with an attack ad against DeSantis on abortion signaling how they would go after him if he ever did emerge as the GOP nominee, however unlikely that is at this stage:

It’s worth noting this Democrat attack against DeSantis–which calls him “Hurricane Ron”–opens with what Democrats view as their most serious and potent issue: abortion. DeSantis, as governor, has implemented a six-week abortion ban, something unlikely to appeal to swing state voters in bluer states than Florida.

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