Republican Presidential Candidates Give Their Positions On Israel
(From L) Former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, former Governor from South Carolina and UN ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and US Senator from South Carolina Tim Scott attend the third Republican presidential primary debate at the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, on November 8, 2023.
MANDEL NGAN / AFP via Getty Images

The five Republican presidential candidates who were at the third GOP primary debate on Wednesday night each gave their stances on how Israel should conduct its war against Hamas and what support the U.S. should provide.

The NBC News debate moderators asked the questions following Hamas’ unprecedented terrorist attack last month in which they murdered 1,400 Israelis and more than 30 Americans. More than 5,300 people were injured and more than 240 were taken hostage.

The first candidate to be asked the question was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis since he was standing at center stage as the leading candidate at the debate.

“I would be telling [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu], finish the job once and for all with these butchers, Hamas,” he said. “They’re terrorists, they’re massacring innocent people, they would wipe every Jew off the globe if they could — he cannot live with that threat right by his country — that Hamas should release every hostage and they should unconditionally surrender.”

“I’m sick of hearing the media, I’m sick of hearing other people blame Israel just for defending itself,” he continued. “We will stand with Israel in word and in deed, in public and in private. And I can tell you, as governor, I actually did something about it. Biden’s neglect has been atrocious. We had Floridians that were over there after the attack. He left them stranded. They couldn’t get flights out. So I scrambled resources in Florida. I sent planes over to Israel, and I brought back over 700 people to safety. There could have been more hostages had we not acted.”

Next to answer the question was former South Carolina Nikki Haley, who stood to DeSantis’ side as the second ranked candidate on stage.

“The first thing I said to him when it happened was I said, ‘finish them, finish them,'” she said. “And the reason is, I worked on this every day when I was at the United Nations. And we have to remember that they have to one, eliminate Hamas, two, support Israel with whatever they need whenever they need it, and three, make sure we bring our hostages home.”


“We need to be very clear-eyed to know there would be no Hamas without Iran, there would be no Hezbollah without Iran, there would not be the Houthis without Iran,” she continued. “And there wouldn’t be the Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq that are trying to hit our military men and women if it hadn’t been for Iran — and who is funding Iran right now? China is buying oil from Iran; Russia is getting drones and missiles from Iran; and there is an unholy alliance. We need to be clear-eyed, the last thing we need to do is to tell Israel what to do; the only thing we should be doing is supporting them in eliminating Hamas. It is not that Israel needs America. America needs Israel. They are the tip of the spear when it comes to this Islamic terrorism. And we need to make sure that we have their backs in that process.”

Pharmaceutical executive Vivek Ramaswamy, who was the next to answer the question, said that he would not provide financial support as he wanted to “avoid making the mistakes” of spending money in foreign wars.

“The founding vision of Israel was based on the idea that they don’t want to depend on anybody else’s sympathy or direction in defending themselves,” Ramaswamy said. “So what I would tell Bibi is that Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend itself. I would tell him to smoke those terrorists on his southern border. … That’s his responsibility.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said that Netanyahu has a responsibility to wipe Hamas off the map and that the U.S. would support Israel in its efforts.

He said that President Joe Biden needed to be willing to strike Iran to stop the attacks from its terrorist proxies on U.S. forces throughout the region.

“If you want to make a difference, you cannot just continue to have strikes in Syria on warehouses, you actually have to cut off the head of the snake, and the head of the snake is Iran, and not simply their proxies,” he said. “In order for us to have a powerful response from America, we have to be in a position of strength. As President of the United States, my foreign policy is simple: you cannot negotiate with evil, you have to destroy it.”

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he would provide any level of support that Israel needed to preserve its sovereignty.

“Remember that Hamas’ main goal is to get rid of Israel, is to get Israel absolutely off the map,” he said. “Now, there are three things I think I would say to him when he asked for advice. The first I would say is that it is absolutely your obligation to protect the territorial integrity of Israel. Secondly, to make sure you protect the security and the safety of your people. Every time something happens to compromise either one of those things, it creates greater unrest in the entire region.”

He said that Netanyahu must make sure that Hamas can never do this again and that he needs to be focused on Iran and working with Western nations and the Gulf States to isolate Iran “so their only friends in the world are part of the evil foursome of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.”

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