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5 memorable moments from the fourth GOP primary debate

5 memorable moments from the fourth GOP primary debate

The fourth GOP primary debate featured raucous back-and-forths among four of the top five Republican candidates for president.

Former President Trump, the GOP front-runner, did not participate. But he was mentioned in questions and some answers.

In a debate that included yelling, sharp points and props, here are five memorable moments:

Christie dubs Trump an ‘angry, bitter man’

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie opened his debate night by going after the top GOP candidate not present: Trump, who has refused to attend debates, claiming that his large primary lead makes them unnecessary.

Christie also slammed his fellow candidates, saying they refused to go after the former president.

“I look at my watch now. We’re 17 minutes into this debate,” Christie told moderator Megyn Kelly. “And except for your little speech in the beginning, we’ve had these three acting as if the race is between the four of us.”

He marked Trump as “Voldemort: he who shall not be named,” referencing the “Harry Potter” villain, as well as a coward for not attending debates, a “dictator” and a “bully.”

“I understand why these three are timid to say anything about [Trump]. Maybe it’s because they have future aspirations,” he continued, implying the other candidates would want to join a future Trump administration.

“There’s no mystery to what [Trump] wants to do,” Christie said. “He started off his campaign by saying, ‘I am your retribution.’ Eight years ago, he said, ‘I am your voice.’ This is an angry, bitter man who now has to be back as president because he wants to exact retribution on anyone who has disagreed with him.”

Haley acknowledges attacks: ‘Love the attention, fellas’

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has been rising in the polls, took much of the heat early on, with attacks primarily coming from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Haley, who has been praised as a skilled debater, took it in stride.

“I love all the attention, fellas. Thank you for that,” she said at one point, to roaring applause from the audience.

She was responding to an attack from Ramaswamy, who said, “The only person more fascist than the Biden regime now is Nikki Haley,” adding, over loud boos from the crowd, “She should come nowhere near the levers of power level on the White House.”

In the same exchange, Haley fended off attacks by DeSantis and Ramaswamy for getting backed by big donors, saying about Ramaswamy, “There’s nothing to what he’s saying. And in terms of these donors that are supporting me, they’re just jealous. They wish that they were supporting them.”

Christie, Ramaswamy feud

Following a heated conversation on the best course of action for the U.S. in Ukraine, Christie let loose on Ramaswamy. The Ohio entrepreneur had just interrupted Christie’s answer.

“This is the fourth debate that you would be voted in the first 20 minutes as the most obnoxious blowhard in America, so shut up for a while,” Christie shot back at Ramaswamy.

The moment was met with cheers from the audience, which rained more boos on Ramaswamy than on any other candidate throughout the night.

Ramaswamy gained a reputation as a feisty debater through previous events and used those raucous moments to make a name for himself in the primary race. Those moments boosted his campaign, though that momentum has slowed.

Ramaswamy uses prop to slam Haley

Throughout the debate, Ramaswamy sought to make Haley his sparring partner, bringing up previous comments and labeling her as a corrupt politician.

At one point, in an effort to hammer in the point, Ramaswamy held up a white notepad, with large black writing, “NIKKI = CORRUPT.”

“She said that I have a woman problem,” Ramaswamy said about Haley. “Nikki, I don’t have a woman problem. You have a corruption problem. And I think that that’s what people need to know.”

“Nikki is corrupt,” Ramaswamy said, holding up the notepad, as the audience’s applause turned to boos. “This is a woman who will send your kids to die so she can buy a bigger house.”

Asked whether she wanted to respond, Haley stood stoic and unmoved by Ramaswamy’s tactics.

“No,” she quipped. “It’s not worth my time to respond to him.”

DeSantis and Christie clash over Trump

Christie repeatedly pressed DeSantis to answer a question on whether he thinks Trump is fit for office. DeSantis evaded, giving vague answers that skirted the heart of the question or that veered off track entirely.

“We need to have somebody younger. I think when you get up to 80 — I don’t think it’s a job for that,” DeSantis said, when the moderator cut in to ask the question for a second time, before pivoting to a slightly unrelated topic.

“Why doesn’t he just answer the question?” Christie cut in. “The question was very direct: Is he fit to be president, or isn’t he? The rest of the speech is interesting, but completely nonresponsive, and if we were in a courtroom, they’d strike the answer.”

The two candidates instantly erupted into a shouting match, prompting the moderators to cut in and give DeSantis another opportunity to respond. He again answered indirectly, and the moderator asked him again.

“He won’t answer. He’s afraid to answer,” Christie said, prompting DeSantis to fire back, “No, I’m not.”

“Either you’re afraid or you’re not listening,” Christie continued.

Christie took the moment as an opportunity to point out what he viewed as the problem with his fellow candidates on the stage.

“Look, I’m a simple guy. OK, I hear the question, and I answer it. ‘Is he fit or isn’t he?’ I’ll concede,” Christie said, talking directly to DeSantis. “You’re fit, Ron. You’re new generation. You’re 44 years old. I wish I was still 44 years old.”

“45,” DeSantis corrected.

“Well, congratulations. I’d still take 45,” Christie said, to laughter from the audience.

“Is he fit or isn’t he? And this is the problem with my three colleagues. They’re afraid to offend,” he continued. “If you’re afraid to offend Donald Trump, then what are you going to do when you sit across from [China’s] President Xi? You sit across from the Ayatollah; you sit across from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. You have to be willing to offend with the truth and answer the question.”

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