GOP candidates back Israel at debate: ‘Eliminate Hamas,’ ‘strike in Iran,’ oppose ‘neocon establishment’
The Republican presidential candidates, during Wednesday night’s debate in Miami, had a unified message for Israel amid its war against Hamas.
“Finish the job,” urged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Get rid of Hamas,” said former UN ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. “Smoke these terrorists,” said entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also defended Israel’s right to self-defense after the October 7 terrorist attacks. More than 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, were horribly killed when Hamas invaded the country’s southern border and raped, tortured and murdered those they found there. About 240 people were taken back to Gaza as hostages, according to Israeli officials.
Moderator Lester Holt asked each candidate what they would tell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if they were in the White House now, as the civilian death toll rises as Israel does ground work. in the Palestinian territory and bombarding Gaza with airstrikes.
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“I would tell Bibi, finish the job once and for all with these butchers, Hamas,” DeSantis replied. “They are terrorists, they are killing innocent people. They would wipe out every Jew from the world if they could. [Netanyahu] he cannot live with that danger with his country. Hamas should release all its enemies, and they should surrender unconditionally.”
Haley, referring to her experience at the United Nations, said Iran was the mastermind behind the attacks on Israel that involved America and US forces stationed in the Middle East. . Since October 17, US bases in Iraq and Syria have been attacked 42 times, according to the Pentagon.
“Hamas would not exist without Iran,” she said. “Hezbollah wouldn’t exist without Iran. The Houthis wouldn’t exist without Iran and there wouldn’t be Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq that are trying to beat our military men and women if it wasn’t for Iran.”
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Haley emphasized that Iran is in an “unholy alliance” with Russia and China and called Israel the “tip of the spear” against Islamic terrorism in the Middle East.
Scott, who engaged Haley in the last debate on Fox Business, raised her concerns about Iran and accused President Biden and the previous Obama administration of “peace” in dealing with the regime in Tehran. Scott has been a vocal critic of the $6 billion in unfrozen funds that the Biden administration released to Iran as part of the prisoner deal.
“There is bloodshed on the hands of President Obama and President Biden,” Scott said. He called on Biden to “strike Iran” to stop further attacks on US forces by Iranian-backed proxies.
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Ramaswamy dropped rhetorical bombs on his rivals in his reply. After saying he would go “one step further” than Haley and DeSantis by urging Netanyahu to “smoke out these terrorists on his southern border,” he railed against the ” neocon center” and called them both “Dick Cheney in three inch heels”.
It was a jab at Haley, the only woman on stage, and DeSantis, who is accused of putting liquids in his cowboy boots.
Haley shot back saying her heels were five inches and “I don’t wear them unless you can run in them.”
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Christie, meanwhile, was the only candidate who raised moderate criticism of Israel, pointing out that Israeli intelligence did not detect an attack on October 7 and prevent it.
“They failed the people of the state of Israel,” he said.
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Fox News Digital’s Paul Steinhauser and The Associated Press contributed to this report.