Four Republican presidential candidates gathered for a debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Wednesday night: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
As it did in the last debate, the issue of Israel and its war against Hamas came up during the debate.
DeSantis argued that the Biden administration is holding Israel back in its fight against Hamas.
“This administration is trying to hobble Israel from defending itself. They have a right to eliminate Hamas and win a total and complete victory,” he said, adding that Biden has tried to “kneecap [Israel] every step of the way.”
Christie was the only candidate among the four who said he would “absolutely” send American troops to Israel to “get our people home”, a reference to American hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza.
“If they had a plan which showed me that we could get them out safely,” he said, “you’re damn right, I’d send the American Army in there to get our people home and get ’em home now, and I’ll answer that question directly.”
While Haley joined DeSantis in calling for the complete defeat of Hamas, Ramaswamy said the US must be “responsible” in handling the conflict and said he would let Israel deal with Hamas by itself.
“What Hamas did was medieval, it was subhuman,” Ramaswamy said. “But to say that was an attack on America fails a basic test. I mean, if you can’t tell the difference between where the US and Israel is on a map, I can have my three-year-old son show you the difference.”
“That is irresponsible because it has major consequences, because that doesn’t leave room for what actually is an attack on America,” he added.
DeSantis fired back and said, “Our own people were killed in that attack. And I think it’s absolutely appropriate to point that out and to say that we’re in this together.”
Former President Donald Trump skipped Wednesday’s debate, as he has done with the previous ones.