Another GOP Debate, 2 More Alternative Realities | EUROtoday

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Viewers of each CNN and Fox News might activate their televisions Wednesday night time and witness Republican presidential candidates present in different realities.

On CNN, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley debated largely as in the event that they have been the one two candidates within the race ― somewhat than trailing former President Donald Trump by large margins in Iowa simply days earlier than its caucuses and in nationwide polling.

And over on Fox News, Trump acquired to exist in a world the place his assist was common and his coup try was an afterthought, if it was considered in any respect.

Throughout the night time, DeSantis and Haley hardly ever deviated from giving solutions that appeared like canned strains from their stump speeches. And it appeared that neither candidate was able to deal with the electorally difficult actuality that Trump, barring an act of God, will almost definitely win Monday’s caucuses primarily based on his 30-percentage-point polling lead.

Trump’s identify was barely raised besides to often evoke the truth that he had declined an invite to what was the final Republican presidental debate earlier than voters start to determine on his potential return to the White House.

“I wish Donald Trump was on this stage. He’s the one I’m running against,” Haley stated at one level, a comment that tried to undercut the individual standing beside her on stage and look towards future races on the calendar, which polls forecast will probably be a tighter contest between Trump and Haley.

Both Haley and DeSantis dodged a query about whether or not Trump respects the U.S. Constitution, however they went tougher on him in different areas. Haley laughed off the “absolute immunity” argument that Trump’s attorneys are floating in a federal appeals courtroom as a trial over the occasions of Jan. 6, 2021, approaches. DeSantis additionally identified — greater than midway by means of the talk — that Trump’s authorized issues imply that Republicans might probably elevate a nominee who’s dealing with potential conviction in a number of instances.

During the hourlong “town hall” on Fox News, Trump fielded pleasant questions from voters, nearly all of whom supported him, and from Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha McCallum, who by no means as soon as challenged something he stated, regardless of how unsuitable.

Notably, Trump’s varied plans to overturn the 2020 election and his incitement of the riot on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by no means as soon as got here up. Instead, viewers have been handled to a softer, kinder model of Trump, one who undoubtedly doesn’t need “revenge” and “retribution” in opposition to the “vermin” who oppose him, as he has repeatedly said.

“I’m not going to have time for retribution,” Trump stated Wednesday, including, “Our ultimate retribution is success.”

Trump was additionally requested about whether or not he supported political violence after he stated on Tuesday that there will probably be “bedlam in the country” if the felony instances in opposition to him succeed and he then loses the 2024 election.

“Can you say tonight that political violence is never acceptable?” Baier requested Trump.

“Well, of course that’s right,” Trump stated earlier than deflecting by equating political violence with wars.

“Take a look at wars again. I didn’t start ― I wasn’t involved in wars,” Trump stated, falsely.

Neither Baier nor McCallum raised the plain objection right here, that Trump incited an riot as a part of a plot to maintain him in workplace. Is Fox News simply working cowl for Trump or, after paying a $787 million settlement for peddling Trump’s election fraud lies and dealing with additional litigation, is it too afraid of getting him push those self same lies on the air?

Either means, the city corridor supplied a window into an alternate actuality the place Trump not solely did nothing unsuitable however apparently did nothing in any respect after dropping the 2020 election.

Here are three extra takeaways:

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley relished discussing Ron DeSantis' campaign woes. “If you can’t manage a campaign, how can you run a country?” she asked.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley relished discussing Ron DeSantis’ marketing campaign woes. “If you can’t manage a campaign, how can you run a country?” she requested.

JIM WATSON/AFP through Getty Images

Haley goes in on DeSantis’ marketing campaign woes.

“If you can’t manage a campaign, how can you run a country?” Haley stated, in a very stinging remark directed at DeSantis, referencing his workers turnover and the whopping $150 million his marketing campaign has spent to date.

“He has nothing to show for it,” Haley stated. “He spent more money on private planes than he has on commercials trying to get Iowans to vote for him.”

Campaign-in-disarray assaults can really feel like inside baseball for the common voter, however Haley’s broader level was meant to undercut DeSantis’ much-touted management within the “great state of Florida.” The Florida governor’s candidacy hinges on his conservative management. His star within the Republican Party rose as he fought COVID-19 security measures and crusaded in opposition to “woke” indoctrination in school rooms and at considered one of his state’s largest employers, the Disney Co.

But the drama unfolding with DeSantis’ marketing campaign operation and his allied tremendous PAC, Never Back Down, has generated a sequence of unflattering headlines, most just lately when its chief political architect, Jeff Roe, stop simply two months earlier than the caucuses.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seized on Nikki Haley's tenure as ambassador to the United Nations to try to depict her as a "globalist."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seized on Nikki Haley’s tenure as ambassador to the United Nations to attempt to depict her as a “globalist.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

‘You can take the ambassador out of the U.N.’: DeSantis knocks Haley’s conservative credentials.

With dwindling money reserves and little likelihood of an upset in New Hampshire, DeSantis has rather a lot using on the Iowa caucuses, with polling exhibits him neck-and-neck with Haley for second place.

DeSantis’ closing argument in opposition to Haley was that she merely just isn’t conservative sufficient and can cave to liberal or huge enterprise strain on hot-button cultural points.

DeSantis repeatedly forged doubt on Haley’s document on border enforcement, standing as much as China, squashing transgender rights for youth, holding the road in opposition to taxes and championing private-school vouchers, claiming she had “caved to the teachers union” somewhat than give the mother and father of each public college scholar the cash to select a non-public possibility.

“When you need someone standing and fight for you, don’t look for Nikki Haley,” he stated. “You won’t be able to find her if you had a search warrant.”

His assaults hit hardest, nevertheless, when he used a debate over help for Ukraine to forged doubt on her credentials as an American nationalist. DeSantis stated he needed to look at the place the U.S. help goes and what can be one of the best ways to attain a peaceable final result to a Russia-Ukraine battle that’s now in a stalemate.

“We’ve got homeless veterans, we have all these problems. This is the U.N. way of thinking that we’re somehow globalists and we have unlimited resources,” he stated, drawing cheers from the viewers. “You know, I think here’s the problem: You can take the ambassador out of the United Nations, but you can’t take the United Nations out of the ambassador.”

Haley pushed again on a few of DeSantis’ claims but additionally repeatedly urged viewers to go to for extra full rebuttals.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigns in Grimes, Iowa, on Monday. He is following Donald Trump's lead by casting himself as a defender of Social Security.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigns in Grimes, Iowa, on Monday. He is following Donald Trump’s lead by casting himself as a defender of Social Security.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

DeSantis’ populist notes sign a shift on Social Security.

If DeSantis tried to outflank Haley from the precise on nationalist, fiscal and cultural grounds, he bobbed left on the query of Social Security, sounding at instances like a populist Democrat.

Asked repeatedly whether or not he would increase Social Security’s retirement age for future retirees in an effort to shut this system’s funding hole, DeSantis stated he would “never” accomplish that whereas Americans’ life expectancy is declining.

“Just think about it: That hurts blue-collar folks,” he stated. “You get taxed your entire life, life expectancy’s down ― you may not even be recouping that many benefits.”

In reality, life expectancy within the United States elevated in 2022 however declined considerably from 2019 to 2021.

But DeSantis is appropriate that there’s proof that Americans with out faculty levels usually are not benefiting from general features in life expectancy. From 2010 to 2019, life expectancy for these with out faculty levels declined, in response to a research by two Princeton economists that got here out in September.

DeSantis additionally defended Social Security as a program whose advantages Americans earn with contributions from their payroll taxes.

“Gov. Haley has said Social Security is an entitlement, but you know it’s not an entitlement. You’re paying into it,” he stated. “It’s not a welfare program. You’re being taxed for it your whole life, and so, to expect to have benefits on the back end ― I don’t think that that’s too much.”

Not every thing he stated made sense, corresponding to his regurgitation of the conservative speaking level that Congress’ spending squandered Social Security’s previous surpluses. (Social Security, which is self-financed, has been spending down its surpluses to accommodate the retirement of the newborn increase technology.)

And Haley accurately identified that DeSantis’ rhetoric is at odds along with his document of voting to extend the retirement age as a member of Congress.

But DeSantis’ remarks are proof of simply how a lot the talk over Social Security has shifted to the left since former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, tried to chop this system’s cost-of-living adjustment. His stance comes after Trump ran in 2016 on guarantees to not lower Social Security, a break with Republican orthodoxy that many analysts consider helped him win.