- The venomous clashes between the two Indian American candidates were the highlight of the third Republican presidential debate in Miami.
Nikki Haley used a word that was probably never used in a presidential debate. The former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and the former South Carolina governor called her GOP rival Vivek Ramaswamy a “scum.” It was a reaction to Ramaswamy dragging her daughter during an exchange about TikTok.
If notoriety is what Ramaswamy was seeking, he earned it in good measure. He came armed with a plan to take down Haley who has been steadily climbing in the polls.
The venomous clashes between the two Indian American candidates were the highlight of the third Republican presidential debate held in Miami on Wednesday.
“She made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time,” Ramaswamy said. “Leave my daughter out of your voice,” a visibly angry Haley shot back. “You’re just scum,” she added with utter contempt.
“The next generation of Americans are using it,” Ramaswamy said of the app, amid boos from the audience. “You have her supporters propping her up — that’s fine.”
TikTok emerged as “a key talking point in the debate as the GOP White House hopefuls sparred over foreign policy,” The Hill noted. The app has come under scrutiny, with many calling for a ban in the U.S.
The heated exchange between the two Indian Americans came after Haley’s dig at Ramaswamy at the second debate. “Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say,” Haley told him then.
In this third round, Ramaswamy started taking on Haley from the very outset repeating his accusations about her being soft on China and being a puppet of corporate donors. Haley kept her cool and almost ignored his barbs, that is, until Ramaswamy tastelessly picked on her daughter.
In the end, however, most analysts and focus groups agreed that Haley was a clear overall winner of the debate, while Ramaswamy may have irreparably hurt himself, possibly even earning the “scum” moniker.
Although Ramaswamy kept up his focus on Haley, he also went after two other women as well — Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and NBC News’ Kristen Welker, who was one of the debate moderators.
MSNBC pundits were quick to characterize Ramaswamy’s remarks as emblematic of his misogyny.
The consensus among most political commentators was that Ramaswamy came out of the debate even more disliked than he already was. Some wondered if he has given up on running for the nomination and could be merely interested in a Fox News/Newsmax gig.
Haley has been rising in the polls, challenging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the second-place spot that he had comfortably held for months.