Republican presidential candidates (L-R), former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy are introduced during the NBC News Republican Presidential Primary Debate

Oh No, I Actually Found Myself Supporting Nikki Haley During An Intense Exchange at the Latest GOP Debate

Her feud with Ramaswamy continues.

I hate-watched a Republican debate again. Watching in real time just gives a different perspective of this nonsense than relying on people’s analyses of what occurred so I continue to subject myself to these clown shows.

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Most of this week’s debate was ridiculous, over-the-top, and pointless, of course. I still think Trump is fast tracked to be the Republican nominee, unless something even crazier than, you know, 90+ indictment charges pop up. But having said that, I found myself weirdly, if briefly, rooting for Nikki Haley.

Maybe rooting for is the wrong way to phrase it. There is something inherently brave about being the only woman amidst a bunch of mediocre men with gargantuan egos. At the same time, we’re not going to #GirlBoss away her fascist tendencies. But having watched all of the Republican debates so far, her quarrels with Ramaswamy have been particularly fascinating. Both of their politics aside, Ramaswamy comes off like a know-it-all douchey frat boy, and Haley as the woman who does all the work on the school project and gets no thanks for it.

There was a specific moment in this latest debate that really had me on Haley’s side. A moment that shocked even me, someone who watches trashy reality TV religiously.

The rhetoric intensified when candidates got onto the topic of TikTok. The dangers of the wildly popular social media app is one of the few things that actually has some bipartisan agreement in Congress! Because TikTok is Chinese-owned, many lawmakers fear that the data can be manipulated by the country’s government. Being a frequent user on the app, I find the algorithms so intricate and often think about what information those in control actually do possess. I meant, I still use it … but I genuinely understand the concern. 

In prior debates, there was some contention over Ramaswamy’s dealings in China. He also campaigns on TikTok. So how did he sidestep accusations of hypocrisy? Ramaswamy decided to pull a low blow, attacking Haley by going after her family.

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

I was stunned watching. Usually, the children of politicians are off-limits. I certainly can’t recall offhand any debate where candidates’ kids have been so explicitly used. You could see the visible anger on Nikki Haley’s face. She responded fiercely, “Leave my daughter out of your voice.” (She probably should have said “out of your mouth” but we all knew what she meant and honestly, I might start using the phrase.)

As he continued speaking, the camera stayed on her as she shook her head, looking irritated, and said quietly, “You’re just scum.” And let’s be real: Ramaswamy is scum. He has dangerous takes on culture and politics but bringing up her kid in that moment was just pathetic and dirty, even by the modern GOP’s very low standards.

There were audible boos in the audience showing that the crowd did not take well to this unnecessary jab. Haley tightened her mouth, a tell-tell sign of anger. She also was shaking her head. The whole thing just really made me dislike Ramaswamy more, if that was even possible. Here you have a guy who has NO experience, especially compared to the sole woman on stage whom he was attacking. I don’t support Haley for President, but she was a Governor and was the Ambassador to the UN. His condescending and bullying behavior is so common for men in politics and I am sick of it. 

So while I am still not going to be voting for Haley, I definitely was on her side at this moment.

(featured image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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