Third 2024 Republican presidential debate

By Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 11:58 a.m. ET, November 9, 2023
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9:37 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Fact Check: DeSantis on Biden’s efforts to combat antisemitism on college campuses  

From CNN’s Katie Lobosco

Republican presidential candidates participate in a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News on Wednesday.
Republican presidential candidates participate in a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News on Wednesday. Rebecca Blackwell/AP

During a back-and-forth during the GOP debate on Wednesday about how the candidates would address incidents of antisemitism on college campuses in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Gov. Ron DeSantis said President Joe Biden is combating Islamophobia instead of supporting Jewish students.  

“Not only is he not helping the Jewish students, who are being persecuted, he is launching an initiative to combat so-called Islamophobia. No, it’s antisemitism that’s spiraling out of control,” DeSantis said.  

Facts First: This is misleading. While the Biden administration announced last week that it is developing a national strategy to counter Islamophobia, the White House already released a national strategy to combat antisemitism in May. 

Earlier this week, the Department of Education issued guidance reminding schools that they have a legal obligation to address incidents of both antisemitism and Islamophobia. The guidance specifically said that schools must address discrimination based on race, color or national origin — including against those who are Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab or Palestinian. 

“When it comes to antisemitism or Islamophobia, that has no place on our college campuses or in our schools,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told CNN. 

Biden has repeatedly denounced antisemitism, both after the Hamas attack and for years before

9:34 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Fact Check: Haley's comments on US troops targeted by Iran 

From CNN’s Haley Britzky

Asked about supporting the use of military force against Iran in response to the recent attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria by Iranian proxy groups, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said: “The idea that our men and women could be targeted, and that we’ve allowed almost 100 hits to happen under Biden’s watch is unthinkable.” 

Facts first: Haley’s figure is incorrect. As of Wednesday, Iranian-backed groups had targeted US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria at least 41 times since October 17 with one-way attack drones or rocket attacks. The most recent was a multi-rocket attack on Wednesday, on forces at Shaddadi, Syria. 

Haley also said that the US needed to “go and take out their infrastructure that they are using to make those strikes with so they can never do it again.” A senior military official told reporters on Wednesday that an airstrike that day by US F-15 fighter jets hit a weapons storage facility used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Corps Guard that is believed to house “weapons that we believe are likely used in many of the strikes that have taken place against our forces here in the region.”

11:38 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Haley calls Ramaswamy "scum" after he mentions her daughter's use of TikTok

From CNN's Aaron Pellish and Ebony Davis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens as former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy argue on either side of him on Wednesday in Miami.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens as former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy argue on either side of him on Wednesday in Miami. Mike Segar/Reuters

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called Vivek Ramaswamy “scum” after he referred to Haley’s daughter’s use of TikTok in response to a question about banning the social video app owned by a Chinese-based company.

Ramaswamy, who joined TikTok earlier this year, referred to Haley’s previous criticism of the tech entrepneur presence on the app at the second Republican primary debate in California in September.

“In the last debate, she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time. So you might want to take care of your family first,” Ramaswamy said.

Haley interjected, saying to “Leave my daughter out of your voice."

Ramaswamy continued over an audible reaction from the crowd in Miami. 

“The next generation of Americans are using it, and that’s actually the point,” he said.

“You’re just scum,” Haley muttered into the microphone as Ramaswamy continued his response, rolling her eyes in disgust.

“Look, I’m a mom. I’m a mom, so the second that you go, and you start saying something about my 25-year-old daughter, I’m going to get my back up. But this is — it's not even about the personal part,” Haley said during a post-debate interview with NBC News.

The biting personal feud traces back to the previous Republican debates. At the first Republican debate in Milwaukee in August, Haley aggressively attacked Ramaswamy’s lack of foreign policy experience. At the second Republican debate in Simi Valley, California in September, Haley further revealed her antipathy for Ramaswamy.

“Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber,” Haley said in response to Ramaswamy at the second debate.

After Wednesday's debate, Haley said she has "serious differences" with Ramaswamy.

"He doesn't think that we need to be helping Israel. He sides with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and thinks that Ukraine doesn't matter. He's OK with giving Taiwan to China. There's so many issues. He doesn't think America needs friends and that's dangerous. He has a dangerous foreign policy that we can't afford, and I think he would make America less safe,” Haley said in the NBC interview.

9:29 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Fact Check: Scott's claim on Biden and Iran

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

Sen. Tim Scott speaks at the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday in Miami.
Sen. Tim Scott speaks at the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday in Miami. Mike Segar/Reuters

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said during Wednesday’s GOP debate in Miami: “Frankly, President Biden has sent billions to Iran.”  

Facts First: This needs context. Scott didn’t explain that the $6 billion in question was not “sent” from the US itself and is not money from US taxpayers. It is $6 billion of Iran’s own money, from oil sales, that had been frozen in restricted South Korean accounts until the Biden administration agreed in September to allow it to be transferred to restricted accounts in Qatar — to be used with US approval by Iran for certain specified humanitarian purposes — as part of a deal in which Iran agreed to free five Americans the US had deemed wrongfully detained.  

The Biden administration has repeatedly said that none of the $6 billion has been spent yet. And in early October, after the Hamas attack on Israel, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told House Democrats that the US and Qatar had reached a “quiet understanding” to not allow Iran to access any of the money for the time being, a source in the room told CNN in October. While Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not confirm that a “quiet understanding” had been reached, he made clear the US is able to freeze the funds.

Even before that, the Biden administration emphasized that the Iranian government would not be able to pocket the money itself and that it could only be used, under strict US supervision, to make humanitarian purchases from approved vendors. Some critics of the Biden administration and the deal with Iran have fairly pointed out, however, that Iran getting access to $6 billion for humanitarian purposes could free up that same amount of its own money to be used to fund terror.  

9:42 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

DeSantis and Haley spar on China

From CNN's Kit Maher and Aaron Pellish

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks alongside former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley during the NBC News Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County on November 8 in Miami. 
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks alongside former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley during the NBC News Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County on November 8 in Miami.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for recruiting a Chinese fiberglass company to come to her state during her term.

“She welcomed them into South Carolina, gave them land near a military base, wrote the Chinese ambassador a love letter, saying what a great friend they were. That was like their number one way to do economic development,” DeSantis claimed.

“In Florida, I banned China from buying land in the state,” DeSantis claimed. “We kicked the Confucius institutes out of our universities. We've recognized the threat and we've acted swiftly and decisively.”

Haley, not given an opportunity to immediately respond, later attacked DeSantis’ own record through his state's economic development agency.

“Yes, I brought a fiberglass company 10 years ago to South Carolina, but Ron, you are the chair of your Economic Development Agency that as of last week, said Florida is the ideal place for Chinese businesses," she claimed.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he agrees with DeSantis’ attacks on Haley for her previous welcoming of Chinese-based businesses into the US as governor and in her previous role as ambassador to the UN – but went on to criticize DeSantis for his ties to a donor who lobbied on behalf of Chinese investment in the US.

Ramaswamy said DeSantis was “correct” to point out Haley’s previous support Chinese investment, but appeared to refer to reports that DeSantis donor Ken Griffin, CEO of the hedge fund Citadel, lobbied on behalf of China to amend a bill that allowed Chinese nationals to purchase property near military bases in the US. DeSantis denied Ramaswamy’s assertions.

“You do have to recognize that Ron DeSantis was correct about acknowledging Nikki Haley's tough talk when was ambassador to the UN, calling China ‘our great friend,’ bringing the CCP to South Carolina. When you left out, though, Ron, and be honest about it, there was a lobbying-based exemption in that bill that allowed Chinese nationals to buy land within a 20-mile radius of a military base lobbied for by one of your donors,” Ramaswamy said. “So I think we have to call a spade a spade. We need politicians who are independent of the forces that increase our dependence on China.”

“That’s not true,” DeSantis said in response.

10:06 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Trump touts travel ban and pushes for hard-line immigration policies at rally

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Hialeah, Florida, on Wednesday.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Hialeah, Florida, on Wednesday. Lynne Sladky/AP

Former President Donald Trump, at his rally not far from where the GOP debate was being held, continued pushing his hard-line immigration proposals and touted the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries he implemented as president.  

“Here in the United States, I implemented a strong, powerful, really incredible travel ban — they call it the Trump travel ban and I said that’s OK if you want to do that — to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country,” Trump told the crowd gathered in Hialeah, Florida.

Trump promised to implement an expanded travel ban should he be reelected next year as he warns about a potential terrorist attack taking place within the US.

The former president on Wednesday said he would “begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history” if elected — a promise that has become a regular part of his campaign stump speech.

He went on to condemn the thousands of people who gathered in Washington, DC, to push President Joe Biden to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. Trump even went as far as to say he wanted to deport what he called “resident aliens” who participated in the protests.

“To all the resident aliens who joined in the pro-Jihadist protests and became very violent and started destroying our capital in many other places, we put you on notice: Come 2025 we will find you and we will deport you,” Trump said.

The former president has vowed to revoke student visas of those who participate in pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses and has said he would send Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to what he described as “pro-jihadist demonstrations.”

9:16 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Haley condemns antisemitism on college campuses: "No person should ever feel in danger like this"

From CNN's Ebony Davis

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, in Miami, Florida.
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, in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley condemned the uptick in antisemitism on college campuses following the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, saying “no person should ever feel in danger like this.”

“This is what I would say about our college presidents. If the KKK were doing this, every college president would be up in arms. This is no different. You should treat it exactly the same. Antisemitism is just as awful as racism, and we've got to make sure they're protected,” she said.

This analogy was notable given Haley’s experience as the governor of South Carolina. In 2015, Haley signed a law to remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol, the culmination of a years-long movement that was reignited by the murders of nine members of a historically black church in Charleston. 

9:13 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

DeSantis says he will not send US troops to Ukraine, but will send them to the southern border

From CNN's Kit Maher

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday in Miami.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday in Miami. Mike Segar/Reuters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would not send US troops to Ukraine as president. 

“We are not going to send our sons and daughters to Ukraine,” DeSantis said. “I am going to send troops to our southern border.”

On the campaign trail, DeSantis has said he believes another terrorist attack on the United States will be linked to the US southern border. 

“Terrorists have come in through our southern border. I'm going to shut it down. I'm going to have the military and I'm going to deport the people who've come particularly under Biden who've come from the Middle East come from all these places,” DeSantis said. 

DeSantis called Biden’s $105 billion national security package, including $61.4 billion for Ukraine, “a totally ridiculous use of American tax dollars.”

“We need to bring this war to an end. We need the Europeans to step up and do their fair share. And we need to get serious about the top threat that this country faces, which is the Chinese Communist Party,” DeSantis said. 

9:14 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Christie highlights experience in wake of 9/11 when asked about Islamophobia

From CNN's Ali Main

Former New Jersey Gov. 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 on November 8.
Former New Jersey Gov. 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 on November 8. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie highlighted his experience reaching out to Jewish and Muslim communities in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks when asked on Wednesday about rising threats of Islamophobia in the United States.

Christie, who was appointed to be the US Attorney for New Jersey on September 10, 2001, said he's "the only one on the stage who's actually had experience in dealing with this."

He called the environment in a highly diverse state like New Jersey in the wake of attacks "explosive," and recalled having to send federal agents to respond to threats against Jewish students and synagogues, urging "the same thing should be being done now."

Christie said he also went "from mosque to mosque" in his state, telling members of the Muslim community, "law enforcement is on your side to protect you, regardless of your religion if you are going to comply with the law."

He said his team "stopped any hate crimes that were going on" against Jewish and Muslim Americans in New Jersey, emphasizing that doing so takes "leadership" and work with "both sides."

Making clear his position on the current dynamic in the Middle East, Christie stated, "let us never have a false moral equivalence between Hamas and Hezbollah, and the Jewish people. The Jewish people stand for right and justice, and Hamas and Hezbollah stand for death."