Rivals attack Haley and other GOP debate takeaways.
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Rivals attack Haley and other GOP debate takeaways.

Despite a much-reduced field, the fourth Republican debate followed a familiar pattern: rivals attacking a rising star, a longshot candidate insulting him, and Donald Trump’s absence palpable.

According to polls, the former president remains far ahead of every candidate on stage even though he skipped each debate. In a statement, his political action committee called the event a “race for second place”.

The debate took on new urgency as the four candidates – former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov Chris Christie, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy – only have weeks to raise support.

On the debate stage, each candidate used their precious time differently.

Christie urged his colleagues to denounce Mr Trump, Haley boasted of her foreign policy credentials, DeSantis emphasized his culture war success in Florida, and Ramaswamy embraced conspiracy theories. A number of insults were hurled between the candidates at various points.

There was a primary target for each candidate in each previous debate. Nikki Haley was the guest tonight.

Despite a surge in momentum, the former governor of South Carolina and UN ambassador still trails behind Mr. Trump in most polls.

Her recent success, however, drew some pointed criticism.

DeSantis accused her of changing her stance on transgender youth treatment, which he opposes. Ramaswamy attacked her for joining Boeing’s board after leaving government service. Moreover, he claimed she backed progressive business principles that have been criticized by conservatives.

Her response to the attention of the fellas was, “I love it all, fellas, thanks a lot.”.

In her closing pitch, Ms Haley cited polls to argue that she was the only candidate who could defeat Joe Biden.