NBC’s Lester Holt warns raucous Miami audience to keep quiet just five MINUTES into fiery GOP debate after zingers from Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy
NBC News host Lester Holt was forced to warn the Republican debate audience to keep quiet just five minutes into a fiery start to the third Republican showdown.
After former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s opening statement drew cheers from the crowd, Holt quickly intervened to “alert the public.”
“Let’s not go down this road,” he said. “We’ve asked you to please restrain yourselves… these are important issues and voters want and need to hear them.”
The comments did little to calm tensions among the audience and the candidates on stage, who exchanged views as the debate got off to a heated start.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Ramaswamy, Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took the stage Wednesday evening for the third Republican presidential primary debate in Miami, Florida.
NBC News anchor Lester Holt (left) struggled early to control the crowd during a fiery start to the third Republican presidential debate
Republican presidential candidates (L-R), former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy and US Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)
Holt’s orders to the audience came as moderators, including radio host Hugh Hewitt and NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker, asked the candidates why they should be nominated over former President Donald Trump, who is leading in the polls.
Ramaswamy took the opportunity to target the ‘corrupt media establishment’ and accused the media of rigging the 2020 elections at an early stage, sparking a reaction from the crowd.
At that point, Holt again begged the audience to be quiet: “Audience, let’s not do this, let’s not do this. Let’s let the candidates speak.’
The moderators’ struggle to control the crowd was hampered by several more moments of disagreement among the candidates.
In particular, Ramaswamy repeated his attacks on Haley as a “war hawk” on the issue of Ukraine financing, appearing to describe her as “Dick Cheney in three-inch heels.”
Haley responded by joking that her heels are “not for fashion, they’re for ammunition.”
The former UN ambassador, who served in the role under President Trump, was also involved in a hostile moment with Ramaswamy over the TikTok issue, when the entrepreneur was raising her daughter.
After Haley joined her Republican rivals in condemning the Chinese-made social media platform, Ramaswamy claimed her daughter was spotted using the popular app.
In response, Haley warned Ramaswamy to “keep my daughter’s name out of your voice,” adding that he was “scum.”
Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy (right) became embroiled in several early feuds with other rivals, including Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left)
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lambasted former President Trump in his opening statement
Former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has seen a wave of polling in the debate in recent weeks
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina confronted his rivals early in the debate
The early stages of the debate in Miami, Florida saw Ramaswamy face off against several candidates after making revealing comments, including arguing that the moderators should be replaced by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, podcast host Joe Rogan and Tesla and X CEO Elon. Musk.
The millionaire biotech entrepreneur also challenged McDaniel, chairman of the Republican National Committee, to take the stage and resign, citing continued election losses for out-of-touch Republicans in recent years.
“I think there’s something deeper going on here within the Republican Party, and I’m appalled by what happened last night,” Ramaswamy said, referring to a slew of Republican Party election losses, including in his home state of Ohio.
“We have ultimately become a party of losers because of the cancer of the Republican establishment,” he added. ‘Let’s speak the truth. Since Ronna McDaniel took over the RNC chairmanship in 2017, we have lost 2018, 2020 and 2022 – not a red wave that never came.”
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy made several bizarre comments early in the debate that sparked reactions from both the audience and the other candidates on stage
“On that note, Ronna, if you’ll come on stage tonight, look Republican voters in the eye and tell them you’re resigning, I’ll turn around and surrender my time to you,” he dared.
Ramaswamy has also accused Welker of past news reports of Russian collusion with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“Kristen – I’m going to use this time because this is about you in the media and the corrupt media establishment, you ask – the Trump-Russia hoax that you pushed on this network for years, was that real or did Hillary Clinton break it up ? -disinformation? Answer the question. Go,” he demanded.
The NBC News moderator didn’t get a chance to respond as the audience clapped and cheered, prompting Holt to again beg the crowd to be quiet.
In a foreign policy discussion, Ramaswamy attacked other candidates as “Ukrainian hawks” before blasting Haley for his lack of foreign policy experience.
“I’m telling you, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and President Xi (Jinping) are salivating at the thought that someone like that could become president, they would love it,” she said.