Here are six key takeaways from the third Republican primary debate:

  1. Trump's Presence, but Not Dominance: Despite not being present at the debate, former President Donald Trump still cast a significant shadow over the event. The candidates in the Republican primary field are all vying for his support while trying to distinguish themselves. Each candidate has a slightly different approach to dealing with the challenge of opposing a leader who remains highly popular within the party base.

  2. DeSantis Calls for New Leadership: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, once considered the most likely contender to challenge Trump, asserted that it's time for new leadership. He argued that Trump has changed since 2016 and suggested that Trump should be held accountable for his record.

  3. Haley Balances Past Support with Current Critique: Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley attempted to strike a balance by acknowledging that Trump was the right president at the right time but asserting that he is not the right leader at this moment. She criticized Trump's handling of foreign policy issues, including Ukraine.

  4. Ramaswamy Criticizes the Establishment: Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy largely avoided discussing Trump directly and instead called for new leadership within the party. He pointed to the party's poor performance in recent midterm elections and criticized the debate moderators. Ramaswamy suggested that billionaires Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, along with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, should have hosted the debate instead.

  5. Christie Focuses on Looking Forward: Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has centered his candidacy on challenging Trump, emphasized the need for a leader who will make the country look forward, not just inward. He suggested that the United States should pay attention to global affairs.

  6. Israel-Hamas Conflict Dominates Discussion: Foreign policy, particularly the Israel-Hamas conflict, took center stage in the debate, organized in part by the Republican Jewish Coalition. Candidates expressed strong support for Israel and its military response to Hamas attacks in Gaza. They emphasized the historical bipartisan support for Israel in the United States.