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Republican presidential candidates unite behind Israel in 3rd GOP debate

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) talk over each other on the issue of abortion as former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy listen at the third Republican presidential primary debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign, in Miami, Florida, Nov. 8, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

In a rare moment of unity, all five contenders attending this week’s Republican Presidential Candidate debate in Miami declared their unequivocal support for Israel as the war against Hamas terrorists continues. Former U.S. President Donald Trump did not attend the 3rd GOP debate, choosing instead to address his supporters at a giant rally in Hialeah, Florida on the same night his primary challengers faced-off in Miami.

Telegraphing how the battle to crush Hamas would likely be front-and-center in Thursday’s debate, Miami's Mayor Francis Suarez told ALL ISRAEL NEWS prior to the start of the event that his city stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel.

“Pro-Palestinian rallies around America are sickening to me,” said Suarez, who himself briefly campaigned for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

“Miami stands with Israel and their right to defend themselves.”

Declaring Israel as America’s best ally and the only democracy in the Middle East region, Suarez added: “We have a very robust Jewish population here in Miami – third largest in the world after Israel and New York City – and we go out of our way to make Jewish people feel safe here. As mayor, I’m going to ensure that people of the Jewish faith who live here or worship in synagogues in our city are protected and feel safe.”

Early in the nationally-broadcast debate sponsored by NBC News, the Salem Radio Network and the Republican Jewish Coalition, moderator Lester Holt asked each of the five Republican candidates to state his or her position on the Israel/Hamas conflict.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said if he were president, he’d clearly communicate with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “I would be telling Bibi finish the job once and for all with these butchers,” (which prompted thunderous applause from the debate audience.) “Hamas? They're terrorists. They're massacring innocent people. They would wipe every Jew off the globe if they could. He (Netanyahu) cannot live with that threat right by his country.”

DeSantis continued: “Hamas should release every hostage, and they should unconditionally surrender. I'm sick of hearing the media… I'm sick of hearing other people blame Israel just for defending itself. We will stand with Israel in word and in deed, in public and in private. And DeSantis added: “I can tell you as governor, I actually did something about it. Biden's neglect has been atrocious. We had Floridians that were over there after the attack. He left them stranded. They couldn't get flights out. So I scrambled resources in Florida. I sent planes over to Israel, and I brought back over 700 people to safety.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley deflected a question about a so-called humanitarian pause in the war, and she offered her advice to Prime Minister Netanyahu: “The first thing I said to him when it (Hamas attack) happened was to finish them…finish them. And the reason is that I worked on this every day when I was at the United Nations. They have to one, eliminate Hamas… two, support Israel with whatever they need whenever they need it. And three, make sure that we bring our hostages home.”

Haley, former governor of South Carolina, declared, “We need to be very clear that there would be no Hamas without Iran. There would be no Hezbollah 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.”

The former U.S. ambassador outlined what Haley calls “an unholy alliance” among Iran, China and Russia and firmly stated: “The last thing we need to do is to tell Israel what to do. The only thing we should be doing is supporting them in eliminating Hamas.”

Another candidate, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, pointed out that “the founding vision of Israel was that they don’t want to depend on anybody else’s sympathy or direction in defending themselves. Israel has the right and responsibility to defend itself, and I would tell Netanyahu to smoke those terrorists on his southern border.”

U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said his message to Israel is to wipe Hamas from the map. “We will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel, there will be no daylight between us.” He added that in Scott’s view, “there is blood dripping from the hands of President Obama and President Biden” because of billions of dollars they supplied to Iran over recent years. 

Finally, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie believes it is “absolutely the responsibility” of the IDF and Israeli government leaders to protect the territorial integrity of Israel and to preserve the safety of Israel’s citizens. Christie echoed the call of his fellow candidates to urge Israel to totally eradicate Hamas so that terrorist attacks like those mounted on Oct. 7 can never happen again.

However, in fundraising and in their standing in opinion polls, candidates Scott, Ramaswamy and Christie appear to be quickly fading as realistic challengers to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump… leaving Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley as the only viable candidates remaining in the 2024 contest.

A fourth Republican debate is slated to take place in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Dec. 6. Donald Trump has already bowed out of that event, counting on his 40-point lead over his other challengers to keep him out front as voting approaches early next year. The big question is whether or not anyone other than DeSantis and Haley can garner enough support to be on that fourth debate stage next month in Alabama. 

Tom is a contributing editor for ALL ISRAEL NEWS. He has long served as vice president of News & Talk Programming for the Salem Radio Network and SRN News, the #1 Christian radio news network in the United States.

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