Five Republicans gathered Wednesday on a Miami debate stage for the third debate in the Republican presidential primary.

Here are live updates from the debate.

Who won the debate?

The debate concentrated on foreign policy, allowing former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to shine. “The world is on fire,” she said in her closing remarks, pointing out the existing wars in Europe and the Middle East. She said a strong America would help the rest of the world.

But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was coming off a strong week after receiving an endorsement from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. He seemed more at ease on stage in the third debate, and the foreign policy questions gave him an opportunity to bring up his military service.

Vivek Ramaswamy drew his fellow candidates’ ire by attacking each of them at one point or another during the debate. He also accused Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who was in the audience, of doing a poor job leading the RNC.

Chris Christie and Sen. Tim Scott, who are languishing in the polls, tried to carve out a position for themselves. Scott spoke extensively about his Christian faith, answering most questions by talking about his religious values.

Christie struck a milder tone in the third debate.

Former President Donald Trump was not on the stage, but as the frontrunner, his presence was still felt. He spoke at a rally just down the coast.

Republican presidential candidates former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talk during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

Abortion rights

After moderators asked the candidates about abortion, Gov. Ron DeSantis began, “Everyone deserves a shot,” but said Republicans should approach the issue from the bottom up. He said the “pro-life cause has been losing the referenda,” and said “Democrats will not identify a point at which a life is a life.”

Nikki Haley said while she is “unapologetically pro-life,” abortion is “a personal issue for every woman and every man.” Haley’s solutions included consensus on banning late term abortions, making contraception accessible and focusing on how to save as many babies as possible.

Sen. Tim Scott said he would like to see a “15 week federal limit” on abortion. He added, “3 out of 4 Americans agree on a 15 week limit.”

Haley responded to Scott’s remarks saying, “when you first were interviewed, you wouldn’t say you were for 15 weeks.” She added, “Let’s see what we can agree on. I would sign anything we can get 60 Senate votes.”

Vivek Ramaswamy spoke about the importance of “sexual responsibility for men.” He said it’s not just women’s rights, “it’s about human rights.”

Chris Christie’s remarks focused on states setting their own abortion laws. He said, “We need to be more proactive in protecting life until death,” referring to the American fentanyl crisis.

Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

How candidates would fight opioids and fentanyl

Sen. Tim Scott said U.S. military technology can be used to surveil the Southern border and stop fentanyl from crossing the border. He said to effectively deal with opioid overdoses, it must be dealt with at the ports of entry.

Chris Christie also backed the use of and investment in technology to solve this issue. “Technology is one of the biggest tools that we don’t have enough of at the ports of entry,” he said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis began his response by talking about speaking to a father who lost his son to fatal fentanyl.

“Obviously the pain of losing a child is as bad as it gets,” he said. But, he said the father of the children told him that the “salt in the wounds is that these elites in DC don’t give a damn about what’s going on in this country.”

The Florida governor promised to build a wall and designate the Mexican cartel as a terrorist organization.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley pointed to the fact that more Americans died because of these drugs than in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined.

“We need to go to where they’re distributed, where the supply centers are and take them out,” she said. Haley proposed defunding sanctuary cities and reinstating the Remain in Mexico policy instead of catch and release.

Meanwhile, Vivek Ramaswamy said these incidents weren’t of an “overdose” but “closer to bioterrorism.” He also claimed that he was the only candidate to visit the Northern border, which is also a route used to smuggle the deadly drugs.

Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy talks with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., listens during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

What would candidates do on Social Security?

Chris Christie said he is in favor of raising the retirement age for current 30 and 40-year-olds. Since Americans “are already overtaxed,” he suggested altering Social Security eligibility and adjusting retirement age. Christie added that high-income individuals shouldn’t receive Social Security benefits.

Nikki Haley began by explaining Social Security will be “bankrupt in 10 years, Medicare in 8.” Her solution included limiting benefits going to the wealthy and expanding medicare advantage plans.

Vivek Ramaswamy spoke directly after Haley and said, “Her math is wrong.” His solution is “zero based budgeting.” He explained he would “shut down redundant agencies that should not exist.” He added, “We could get to 5% GDP growth if we take the shackles off of our economy.”

Sen. Tim Scott’s solution is to “grow the economy” and “cut taxes,” but explained that he wouldn’t raise the retirement age. He made the case that heavy labor occupations including farming, make raising retirement age unreasonable. He referred to America’s life-expectancy decline by nearly 1% from 2020 to 2021, per the CDC.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would reduce inflation, get the U.S. to at least 3% growth, and ensure Congress cannot take money from Social Security.

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

Candidates say lowering the cost of energy is key to fixing economy

After spending the first hour on foreign policy, moderator Lester Holt pivoted to ask the candidates what they would do to help Americans who feel unhappy about the economy.

Several of the candidates said the question came back to lowering the cost of energy.

Sen. Tim Scott said the U.S. needs to allow more drilling, which would lower the price of gas, lowering the cost of transporting groceries and other goods.

DeSantis also said he would take on the Federal Reserve, which he said “botched” managing interest rates and the flow of money during COVID-19.

Nikki Haley said she would get the nation’s debt under control, calling it a crisis. She said getting deficits under control would bring down interest rates.

Republican presidential candidates from left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., participate in a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

What should the U.S. do about TikTok?

Hugh Hewitt asked the candidates whether they would ban TikTok or force its sale.

Yes, said Chris Christie. He claimed the social media platform is used by China to divide Americans.

Christie pointed out that China doesn’t allow X or Facebook to operate in China.

“China is the top threat we face,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said he would ban the app.

Sen. Tim Scott also said he would ban TikTok.

Vivek Ramaswamy criticized American companies who sell data to China, and again attacked Haley.

“In the last debate she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time,” he said. “So you might want to take care of your family first.”

Haley called Ramaswamy “scum” for bringing up her daughter.

Republican candidates differ on Ukraine aid

While Sen. Tim Scott said the “degradation” of the Russian military is “good news,” he said there should be more accountability on how U.S. dollars sent to Ukraine are spent.

Vivek Ramaswamy said he was opposed to more aid for Ukraine. “Ukraine is not a paragon of Democracy,” he said.

Nikki Haley criticized Ramaswamy, saying “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Chinese President Xi (Jinping) are salivating at the thought that someone like that could be president.” She said she doesn’t think the U.S. should give Ukraine more cash, but they should share equipment and ammunition.

Chris Christie called Ramaswamy’s approach immature.

Ron DeSantis said he would not send troops to Ukraine, and called Biden’s military package for Ukraine a “ridiculous use of tax dollars.” He said the Europeans need to step up and do their fair share.

Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

Jewish students “under attack”

Matthew Brooks, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, asked candidates what they would do to help Jewish university students who feel like they are under attack.

Ron DeSantis said he would cancel student visas if they participate in campus protests. He criticized Biden for trying to confront “Islamaphobia,” when, DeSantis said, anti-Semitism is the real problem.

Ramaswamy criticized DeSantis’ proposal, calling it “censorship.”

Meanwhile, Christie reflected on his time serving as the U.S. attorney in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He said he “personally went from mosque to mosque” to develop relationships with both the Muslim and the Jewish American communities. “You must work with both sides,” he added.

The war between Israel and Hamas

On the war between Israel and Hamas, which began after Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on Oct. 7, each of the candidates — except, notably, Vivek Ramaswamy — said Israel would be able to depend on them if they were president and they said Israel should have the freedom to defeat Hamas.

“I would tell (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), finish the job once and for all with these butchers Hamas,” said Ron DeSantis.

“We will stand with Israel in word and in deed, in public and in private,” he said.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said she would tell Israel to “finish” Hamas, while criticizing Biden’s response to the war.

She argued helping Israel would help the U.S.

“Israel is the tip of the spear when it comes to Islamic terrorism,” she said.

Ramaswamy, while saying he would tell Netanyahu he has the “right and responsibility” to defend Israel, he used his response to attack Haley, accusing her of being like earlier Republicans who supported the war on terror in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. He said Haley and DeSantis were, “Dick Cheney in 3-inch heels,” referring to former Republican Vice President Cheney.

Haley responded by saying, “They’re five inch heels and don’t wear them unless you can run in them.”

Sen. Tim Scott returned to a “support Israel,” message, saying, “You cannot negotiate with evil, you have to destroy it”

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

Why not Trump?

Moderator Lester Holt asked the candidates why they should be the Republican nominee instead of former President Donald Trump.

Ron DeSantis said Trump is “a lot different guy than he was in 2016,” adding that he owes it to voters to be on the debate stage and present his case for why he should be the nominee.

Nikki Haley talked about kitchen table issues like the economy and education that are priorities for her. She said that Trump was the right president in the past, but, she said, he isn’t the right choice anymore.

As for Ramaswamy, he began by saying that he was observing a “deeper” problem in the party.

“We have become a party of losers,” he said, referencing the GOP’s performance in elections across the country on Tuesday.

He also attacked the media, including the NBC moderators, saying that the debate should moderated by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, commentator Joe Rogan or billionaire Elon Musk.

Chris Christie said, “I’ll say this about Donald Trump, anybody who’s going to 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.”

Tim Scott had a much different approach to this answer than others as he leaned into his faith and religion.

“I will be the president that restores faith in God, faith in our future,” he said. Scott also made the case for Republicans to focus on attacking Independent voters and solidifying the voter base.

Debate begins

The candidates who made the cut for this debate include:

  • Ron DeSantis, Florida governor.
  • Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor.
  • Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador.
  • Vivek Ramaswamy, entrepreneur.
  • Tim Scott, U.S. senator from South Carolina.

Who won’t be on the stage this time? North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and front-runner Donald Trump, who will hold a competing rally down the road in Miami.

The issues that will likely be top of mind in this debate include the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and abortion, which featured prominently in Tuesday’s Election Day outcomes.

The debate was hosted by NBC, and the moderators were NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, “Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker and conservative radio commentator Hugh Hewitt.

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Everything you need to know about the Republican presidential debate, including how to watch
Republican presidential candidates from left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., participate in a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press