MIAMI - In their first debate since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, the Republican presidential candidates all declared hawkish support for Israel but squabbled over China and Ukraine as they faced growing pressure to try to catch Donald Trump - who was again absent.
At center stage were Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, who has appeared competitive with DeSantis' second place position in some national polls. Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, declared she would end trade relations with China ''until they stop murdering Americans from fentanyl - something Ron has yet to say that he's going to do.''
In return, the Florida governor said Haley ''welcomed'' Chinese investment to her state, referencing land and economic development deals. Haley then accused DeSantis of scrubbing official websites to hide that Florida had pitched itself as welcoming to Chinese businesses.