Over one year into the war in Ukraine, top Republican presidential contenders answered questions from Fox News on how they would handle the conflict if elected to the White House in 2024.
Fox anchor Tucker Carlson, who is opposed to America’s involvement in the war, posed questions on the war to both declared and potential candidates. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is typically tight lipped when asked whether he will run for president, but his willingness to answer Carlson’s request is the latest signal the Sunshine State governor is planning on running.
Below are summaries of their responses. The GOP presidential hopefuls’ full statements can be viewed here.
Former President Donald Trump
Donald Trump, the former president and first to declare a 2024 presidential campaign, said he does not view the Ukraine war as vital to America’s national strategic interest, and said America’s objective should be to secure Europe, but only if European leaders do more to help themselves.
Trump blames Biden’s handling of America’s pullout from Afghanistan for incentivizing Russia to invade. Looking to the future, he says European countries “must pay at least equal to what the U.S. is paying to help Ukraine.” He called for peace negotiations, which he said, “can be easily done if conducted by the right President.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis
DeSantis called the war in Ukraine a “territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia” and said he does not believe it is a vital national interest for the U.S. He accused the Biden administration of supporting Ukraine with a “virtual blank check” without any “defined objective or accountability.”
The governor, who is a Navy veteran, said “peace should be the objective,” and that pursuing a regime change in Russia “would greatly increase the stakes of the conflict, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely.” He accused Biden’s actions for driving Russia and China closer together.
He ends his comments by saying American leaders should prioritize securing the nation’s southern border before intervening “in an escalating foreign war.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence
Former Vice President Mike Pence also hasn’t announced a campaign yet, but he is holding town halls in early presidential primary states Iowa and New Hampshire. He released a memoir late last year and has said he is considering a presidential run.
In his answer, Pence evoked President Ronald Reagan, saying, “we support those who fight our enemies on their shores, so we will not have to fight them ourselves.” He said the Republican Party cannot caucus with “Putin apologists,” referencing Russian President Vladimir Putin, and said if Russia is not stopped in Ukraine he believes Russia’s army will inevitably “move toward our NATO allies, and America would then be called upon to send our own.”
Pence referenced China in his responses. “(B)y supporting Ukraine, we have told China we will support Taiwan,” he said, and, “Russia is currently being propped up by China.”
Other candidates and GOP leaders
Carlson asked declared candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, a regular Fox News contributor and biotech entrepreneur, for his answers to the Ukrainian-Russia war. Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also submitted answers at Carlson’s invitation.
Ramaswamy said the war is “not vital” to American national strategic interests, while Noem and Abbott identified China and other domestic issues as more pressing. Scott also spoke about China as part of a nuanced answer.
While Christie said, “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is a national security issue that threatens our alliances and our standing in the world.”
Carlson said he reached out to other GOP presidential hopefuls, but did not receive responses from several, including former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who announced her presidential campaign last month, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former ambassador John Bolton and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.