Five Republicans hoping to be their party’s candidate in next year’s U.S. presidential election debated Wednesday night, expressing support for Israel in its war against Hamas, while clashing over China and Russia.
Not appearing on the debate stage in Miami was Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who is seeking to return to the White House after losing the 2020 election.
Trump has not appeared at any of the three Republican debates, and while holding his own rally nearby on Wednesday called the event with his competitors "unwatchable."
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who appears a distant second place in opinion polls, said Trump owes it to those watching the debates to appear and "explain why he should get another chance" to be the party’s nominee.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pointed to Trump’s multiple current and impending legal trials, saying, "Anybody who's going to be spending the next year and a half of their life focusing on keeping themselves out of jail and courtrooms cannot lead this party."
With Israel’s military response to an October attack by Hamas militants in its second month, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Israel needs to "eliminate Hamas."
"We need to be very clear-eyed to know there would be no Hamas without Iran, there would be no Hezbollah without Iran, there would not be the Houthis without Iran, and there wouldn't be the Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq that are trying to hit our military men and women, if it hadn't been for Iran," Haley said.
Senator Tim Scott said he would tell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "not only do you have the responsibility and the right to wipe Hamas off the map, we will support you."
Republican candidates will next debate on Dec. 6.
Voters will begin selecting the party’s presidential nominee Jan. 15 with the Iowa caucuses, and after the state-by-state nominating contests conclude, the Republican nominee will officially be named at the party’s convention in July.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.