Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley emerged as the top target of her rivals during the fourth Republican presidential debate, defending her growing base of Wall Street donors and her foreign policy stances.
Haley, who has been surging in polls and attracted new interest from big-dollar donors in recent weeks, drew pointed attacks straight out of the gate from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
“Look, we will take support from anybody we can take support from, but I have been a conservative fighter all my life,” Haley said Wednesday on the stage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Haley shot back that DeSantis was “mad because those Wall Street donors used to support him and now they support me.”
Ramaswamy criticized Haley for taking money from LinkedIn Corp. co-founder Reid Hoffman, who donated $250,000 to a super political action committee backing her. Hoffman has historically donated to Democratic candidates but said he sees Haley as a potential alternative to Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner.
Ramaswamy criticized Haley’s ties to BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink, who he termed “the king of the woke industrial complex.”
“To say that doesn’t affect her is false,” Ramaswamy added.
Wednesday’s debate saw just four candidates take the stage — Haley, DeSantis, Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — as the field of potential challengers to Trump shrinks and the former president extends his lead against his remaining rivals. Time is running short, with Iowa — the first state on the nominating calendar — less than six weeks away.
DeSantis faced questions about his electability as he struggles to right a struggling campaign that saw him enter the race as a potential viable alternative to Trump before sliding in the polls.
“I’m sick of hearing about these polls,” DeSantis said, noting that he had won reelection to the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee in 2022 — even as Republicans in other races across the country underperformed.
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