A Dreary Squabble for (Distant) Second in Des Moines

Let the voters vote already

(Getty Images)
January 10, 2024

Arguably the most significant development in the GOP primary on Wednesday happened several hours before the CNN-moderated debate between Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, when Chris Christie suspended his campaign less than a week before the Iowa caucuses and was caught on a hot mic trashing his former opponents.

The debate itself was a tedious squabble for (distant) second place in next week's caucuses, refereed by a pair of liberal journalists who couldn't possibly relate to the average Republican primary voter. Two pro-Israel candidates argued over who was more pro-Israel as CNN's Jake Tapper pressed them on "genocide" in Gaza. Two prospective number twos bickering about their campaigns, property insurance rates, and renewable fuel standards, while accusing each other of being lying liars who lie.

"Ron's lying because Ron's losing," said Haley, who kept urging viewers to visit the website "DeSantisLies.Com" to learn the truth about the "cheap" garbage her opponent was spouting on stage. DeSantis countered with a series of stump-speech zingers, boasts about Florida, and attacks on Haley as a Wall Street sellout who will "tell you what you want to hear" but will always "cave to the woke mob."

Eventually they got around to criticizing the GOP candidate who is poised to cruise to victory in Iowa, and most likely to the nomination. DeSantis and Haley slammed Donald Trump's lawyer for suggesting a president who murdered a political opponent would be immune from prosecution. They denounced the former president's continued absence from the debate stage, his mounting legal challenges, and his obsession with re-litigating the 2020 election and the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

"For me it's very much about no drama, no whining, and getting results," Haley said. "I don't think that President Trump is the right president to go forward. I think it's time for a new generation of leader." DeSantis hit Trump for waffling on abortion and failing to deliver on campaign promises such as forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall.

Meanwhile, Trump was also in Des Moines on Wednesday for a Fox News town hall, where he bragged about leading his opponents "by a tremendous amount," agreed with Christie's hot mic assessment that Haley is "going to get smoked" in the election, and predicted DeSantis and his "fancy shoes" would soon be out of the race. (Perhaps they should be grateful Trump skipped the debate.)

Perhaps the only highlight of the CNN debate was the absence of obnoxious blowhard Vivek Ramaswamy, who is still running (for now) but failed to qualify. He spent the evening outlining a nefarious "plot" on social media, in which "puppet" candidates Haley and DeSantis join forces to "eliminate Trump." He won't be missed.

Absent some major change in the dynamics of the race, the United States is barreling toward a two-incumbent election between two elderly and unpopular candidates.

Bottom line: Let the voters vote already.