The GOP presidential primary is heating up, with just one month to go until the Iowa Caucus. Even without frontrunner former President Donald Trump participating in them, the debates thus far have been interesting — even spicy at times.
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Then, too, shortly before the most recent GOP debate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis went toe-to-toe with California Governor Gavin Newsom in a presidential candidate versus shadow presidential candidate showdown on “Hannity.”
All Smile, No Cattle: Politico’s Eye-Rolling Take on Gavin Newsom vs. Ron DeSantis
Following that fourth GOP debate, CNN announced that it would be hosting two additional debates in January: One on January 10th at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa (five days before the caucus), and one on January 21st at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire (two days before the primary).
Fresh off a strong showing in both the Newsom face-off and the December GOP debate, DeSantis has declared his readiness to take the stage in Iowa, though so far, former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley hasn’t committed to doing so.
DeSantis says he is committed to CNN’s debate on January 10 in Iowa — the only Iowa debate scheduled.
“If you’re not willing to debate in Iowa on the eve of the caucus, that shows the voters a lot about you and your willingness to engage.”
Nikki Haley has so far refused to… pic.twitter.com/dAJALafzrV
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) December 13, 2023
In a video shared to X/Twitter on Wednesday, DeSantis said:
“We’re hoping that there’s going to be a debate in Iowa in January. I’ve committed to it. I don’t know that either Donald Trump or Nikki Haley have been willing to commit to do a debate. I think if you’re not willing to debate in Iowa on the eve of the Caucus, that shows the voters a lot…about you and about your willingness to engage on these issues.
“So, I want to debate. I’ll be there. We did the town hall last night on CNN. We’re hoping to be able to do some with some other media outlets as well. Ultimately, you’ve got to show up, and you’ve got to answer people’s questions. And that’s what we’ve been doing, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do all the way up until Caucus Night.
“But the notion that you just don’t show up and you don’t answer questions — you’re not willing to debate — that’s going to be meaningful to a lot of voters because, ultimately, it’s about them, and it’s about them being able to make the best decision about who they want to see as the candidate going forward for the Republican Party. And I’ll be there and we’ll make sure that we get the job done.
“So we’re going to be back in Iowa this weekend. We’re going to continue to be moving around all parts of the state. We really appreciate the organization that’s there. We appreciate all the volunteers, people that are going to be working these precincts — really, really a monumental undertaking — and it’s great to see so many people that are passionate about the future of the country.”
The DeSantis War Room account also pointed out that while Haley has acknowledged the importance of participating in the Iowa debate, she has yet to commit to the one scheduled for January 10th.
JUST NOW: Nikki Haley says it would be “highly” offensive to skip the Iowa debate: “I don’t think you get a pass when it comes to an Iowa debate.”
“You can’t go and hide when it comes to a debate in the state that’s voting.”
Haley is refusing to commit to the debate in Iowa on… pic.twitter.com/4ORoCM5Lyi
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) December 12, 2023
To further drive the point home, DeSantis joined Sean Hannity Wednesday night and offered to debate Haley and Trump as he did with Newsom.
“The reaction that I’ve gotten has been incredible in terms of obviously being able to show that freedom works and the California model’s a failure and what that means for the country, but people appreciated the way you set it up. And they said it was the most substantive debate that they’ve seen in this entire election cycle. And so kudos to you for doing it. I know he had challenged me, and you asked me to do it. So I’m glad we were able to get that done. And just know, if you want to do other debates, Nikki Haley and me, I’m in. Donald Trump and me, I’m in. So just say the word. You’ve shown that you can do it in a way that I think really helps the voter. So I’m game, just let me know.”
Now the question becomes: Will Trump or Haley bite? I’d say the odds are more likely as to Iowa and as to Haley, but we’ll see.