Five Republican candidates took the stage in Miami on Wednesday night as frontrunner Donald Trump stayed away, protecting his huge lead.
He was followed by combative entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy alongside former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and then Sen. Tim Scott, with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie getting the lowest score.
Whether that is enough for DeSantis to begin hauling in Trump, who has a lead of up to 30 points in primary polls, is another matter.
Ron DeSantis – 6.6
When asked to give marks out of 10 to the five candidates on stage on Wednesday night, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (center) came top with an average ranking of 6.6 points
The Florida governor needed a big night, and performed best according to viewers and a string of analysts. Whether or not it changes the overall course of a race that is dominated by Trump is another matter.
But on the night he stuck to his guns and was less distracted by mudslinging than others.
Kellyanne Conway, pollster and former counsellor to President Trump, said she was not surprised to hear that DeSantis came out on top.
‘I think it’s reflective of the fact that DeSantis is so centered,’ she said. ‘He had a better night than the first two debates.’
In a a head-to-head match-up with Haley, his rival for overall second place, he won comfortably, according to viewers. And his supporters will be hoping his showing sets him up for a good two months before the Iowa caucuses in January.
Vivek Ramaswamy – 6.1
Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy stuck to his familiar strategy: Beat up on anyone in sight and insert yourself into any conversation going
Ramaswamy Ramaswamyed again, beating up on anyone in front of him — turning his fire on his rivals, not to mention the Republican National Committee organizers of the debate and its moderators.
‘Think about who’s moderating this debate,’ he said in his opening salvo. ‘This should be Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk
‘We’d have 10 times the viewership.’
After a rambunctious first debate that catapulted him into the minds of voters, subsequent clashes have produced diminishing returns.
He has been slammed by analysts as unlikeable. And although he continues to poll well in DailyMail.com surveys, pollster James Johnson said he was likely winning the support of Trump loyalists who were picking him because their man was not on the stage.
His overall poll numbers are anemic.
Nikki Haley – 6.1
DeSantis beat Haley out of sight in the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night, according to an exclusive DailyMail.com poll of viewers.
Haley had one of the most viral moments of the night, but it may have undermined her solid answers on the big foreign policy questions of the night.
For example, when she was asked what she would say to the Israeli Prime Minister in the wake of the Hamas attack that killed 1400 people she was able to casually mention that she had already spoken to Benjamin Netanyahu.
‘The first thing I said to him when it happened was I said: finish them, finish them,’ she said.
But her night may be most remembered for her instinctive response to Ramaswamy, when he brought up her daughter’s use of TikTok as they clashed over the Chinese-owned social media app.
‘Leave my daughter out of your voice,’ she said, before muttering: ‘You’re just scum.’
That emotional moment may have cost her with viewers, said Conway.
‘For women in leadership there is plenty of room for passion,’ she said, ‘but very little room for emotion.
Tim Scott – 5.5
Tim Scott has revealed that the mystery woman he brought onto stage at the end of the debate was his girlfriend Mindy Noce, a design and renovations manager
Much of the debate featured foreign policy, following the terrorist attack on Israel. It gave Scott a chance to show voters a different side of his campaign, which has majored on domestic issues.
But he also struck a familiar tone as he tried to offer voters a more optimistic vision of America.
Scott frequently referenced the Bible and appealed to the Christian faith of many Republican primary voters, echoing his campaign themes and his singular focus on Iowa, where white evangelical voters are an influential bloc.
And he may have stolen the show right at the end. He triggered a wave of social media posts when he appeared arm-in-arm with a longhaired blonde woman who smiled widely as they posed for photos.
After weeks of questions, he was finally introducing the world to his girlfriend, Mindy Noce.
Chris Christie – 4.8
Chris Christie talks with Scott and his mother Frances after the conclusion of the third debate
As ever, the former New Jersey governor was the candidate most likely to criticize Trump.
‘Anybody who is gonna be spending the next year and a half of their life focusing on keeping themselves out of jail and courtrooms cannot lead this party or this country, and it needs to be said plainly,’ he said early on, when candidates were asked why the would make a better president than Trump.
It is Christie’s unique selling point that he is prepared to speak openly about his disdain for Trump.
But it condemns him to low ratings when the former president remains the biggest force in the Republican Party.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk