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Top GOP candidates Haley, DeSantis hosted in Iowa at key debate

Hours before the debate, a major update came when former New Jersey governor Chris Christie ended his New Hampshire-focused campaign.
Posted at 11:20 PM, Jan 10, 2024

The top Republican candidates again walked onto the debate stage - this time from Des Moines, Iowa - on Wednesday night at Drake University. It was one of the last chances for the candidates to reach a national audience, and gain favor, ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and Florida governor Ron DeSantis went head-to-head for the first time this campaign season. 

"We don't need another mealy mouth politician who just tells you what she thinks you want to hear just to try to get your vote, then to get in office and to do her donors' bidding," DeSantis quipped. 

Haley hit back at DeSantis, calling claims regarding his campaign spending.

"He spent more money on private planes than he has on commercials trying to get Iowans to vote for him," Haley said. "If you can't manage a campaign, how are you going to manage a country?"

Instead of facing his fellow candidates on stage, former President Donald Trump faced questions at a Fox News town hall.

"I am not gonna be a dictator," Trump said. "I'm gonna manage like we did. We were so successful that the country was coming together, it was actually coming together and coming together ... well, it was a beautiful thing to see and we're gonna do that again," the former president said. 

Chris Christie drops out of Republican race for president
Chris Christie

Chris Christie drops out of Republican race for president

Christie made the announcement at a town hall event in New Hampshire.

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Other GOP candidates are still trying to keep their campaigns on track, with their sights set on the 2024 White House. 

Hours before the debate — a major update — former New Jersey governor Chris Christie ended his New Hampshire-focused campaign. 

Asa Hutchinson told Iowans "I'm still running." 

Then, Vivek Ramaswamy, who did not qualify for Wednesday's debate, told Scripps News he believes the polls are rigged. He said he is expecting a strong showing for his campaign, and said "the bar for me is to shatter those media expectations, to shatter the fake polling expectations that have been set. What they've done is a disservice ... has actually been a favor. On January 15th, you're going to see a victory for this campaign."

A strong showing in Iowa on caucus night Monday could give Haley or DeSantis the inside lane to become the alternative to former president Trump ahead of the next primary contest in New Hampshire on January 23rd.