California: The third Republican presidential debate in Miami on Wednesday night was marked by heated exchanges between two Indian American candidates: former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. The two rivals clashed over the issue of TikTok, the popular video-sharing app that has been accused of posing a national security threat due to its Chinese ownership.
Ramaswamy, who has been an outspoken critic of Haley’s foreign policy record, accused her of hypocrisy for mocking him for joining TikTok while her own daughter was using the app. He said that Haley should focus on her family instead of lecturing him. Haley, who has been trying to distance herself from former President Trump, who skipped the debate, fired back at Ramaswamy and called him “scum”. She said that he had no right to bring up her daughter and that he was a disgrace to the Republican Party.
The other candidates on the stage, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, tried to steer the conversation away from personal attacks and towards the substantive issues of US foreign policy, especially in light of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. They all agreed that TikTok should be banned in the US and that the Biden administration had failed to protect American interests and allies in the region.
Haley and Ramaswamy, who are both polling far behind Trump in the race for the 2024 nomination, represent the growing political influence of Americans of Indian descent and are a reminder of the diverse and complex views within the Indian diaspora. The Republican primaries kick off on January 15 in Iowa, where DeSantis recently won the endorsement of the state’s governor, sparking vocal outrage from Trump. The eventual nominee will face off against President Joe Biden in next November’s presidential election.