DeSantis-Haley Ticket: Rising Challenge To Biden’s Reign – OpEd


By Dalia Al-Aqidi

The US city of Milwaukee last week hosted the opening Republican presidential primary debate, with coverage attracting more than 11 million viewers.

In the dynamic landscape of American politics, Wisconsin has emerged as a pivotal battleground, with its status as a swing state adding layers of intrigue and importance. The outcome in this state can serve as a linchpin for presidential aspirants, particularly in elections where margins are razor-thin. Although the state might not command a hefty electoral vote cache, the value of each vote is magnified in closely contested races, with the potential to tip the balance toward victory or defeat.

The unpredictability of Wisconsin’s electorate further elevates its significance. A case in point: The 2016 presidential election witnessed Donald Trump securing a narrow victory in the state, disrupting a historically consistent pattern of Democratic triumphs. Such electoral outcomes underscore the state’s evolving political dynamics, making it a focal point for political analysts and campaign strategists.

Eight candidates took their place on stage in the debate: Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, and Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota.

Notably absent was the early favorite in the primary, Donald Trump, who chose not to participate and unveiled a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson. Some perceived the former president’s decision as a slight to the American electorate, indicating a potential disregard for the democratic process and the public’s expectations.

Various topics were broached throughout the debate, ranging from foreign policy challenges to pressing climate change concerns and the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

In a recent survey by The Washington Post, DeSantis emerged as the standout performer, with 29 percent of Republican viewers saying that his performance outshone the rest.

The Florida governor projected a formidable and unwavering stance, eager to persuade potential voters that he is the beacon of change amid the nation’s perceived challenges. One of the primary issues that resonated powerfully was crime.

When questioned about the subject, DeSantis responded assertively: “America’s current trajectory with crime is emblematic of its overall decline. This is significantly exacerbated by the likes of George Soros financing ultra-progressive district attorneys. Once in office, these DAs openly admit their reluctance to prosecute certain crimes, leading to an anarchic situation akin to ‘inmates running the asylum.”

Meanwhile, Ramaswamy emerged as an unexpected focal point, channeling the combative style of the former president, and engaging in confrontations with numerous rivals on stage. His approach, reminiscent of Trump’s signature tactics, seemed to grate on the other participants. Ramaswamy’s outspokenness, frequent interruptions and a propensity to speak over others, combined with attempts at humor that often missed the mark, ensured that he was at the center of the evening’s most heated exchanges.

However, despite these inconsistencies, there is no denying that Ramaswamy struck a chord with staunch supporters of the former president. His bravado and rhetoric, while divisive for many, resonated with this demographic. Although the road ahead appears promising for this young politician, the debate was a testament to the experience and insight he still needs to acquire. Time will tell whether he can hone his craft and translate his initial momentum into sustained political efficacy.

Haley launched a pointed critique of Ramaswamy’s stance on Ukraine. Challenging his assertion that the US should not back Kyiv in its resistance to the Russian invasion, she emphasized the risks inherent in this viewpoint. “Under your watch, you would make America less safe,” she said, underscoring her rival’s lack of foreign policy acumen. The former UN envoy displayed a masterful blend of composure, clarity and preparation. Her arguments were finely honed, particularly when highlighting the intricate interplay of global geopolitics. She stressed that a victory for Russia would inherently translate to a triumph for China, underlining the strategic importance of Ukraine in safeguarding America’s national interests. Her adept articulation of such complexities showcased her deep understanding of international relations.

A conspicuous unity was evident among the seven GOP candidates, all of whom, with the exception of Ramaswamy, lauded Pence’s actions on Jan. 6, hailing him as a stalwart defender of the American constitution, and emphasizing his commitment to upholding the nation’s foundational principles at a critical moment.

Meanwhile, the former vice president staunchly defended the achievements and policies of the “Trump-Pence administration,” underscoring their collaborative efforts during their tenure.

In a distinctly Trump-esque move, DeSantis said he would have fired presidential adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, who led the White House pandemic response under the Trump administration — a statement that elicited appreciable applause from the Milwaukee audience. The gesture showcased the continuing influence of the former president’s political strategies and the resonance of certain stances with a segment of the Republican base.

The potential pairing of DeSantis and Haley could, indeed, present a formidable challenge to the Biden-Harris administration. With DeSantis exuding presidential dignity and Haley bringing her dynamic presence as a woman of deep conviction and extensive foreign policy experience, such a ticket could appeal to a broad swath of voters. The combination of DeSantis’ executive leadership in Florida and Haley’s global diplomatic prowess might resonate with constituents seeking a balanced and robust Republican leadership.

• Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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