Haley called herself “unapologetically pro-life” and praised the Supreme Court for putting the abortion debate “in the hands of the people.”
Yet she warned that Republicans lack the necessary votes to pass major abortion bans at the congressional level. “Let’s find consensus,” she said of the issue, citing broad support for adoption and bans on late-term abortion.
Asked about his having signed a six-week abortion ban in Florida, DeSantis countered that after doing so he still won reelection in a “landslide” victory.
“You got to do what you think is right,” DeSantis said. “I believe in a culture of life. I was proud to sign the heartbeat bill.”
Asked if he would sign a six-week ban at the federal level, DeSantis responded: “I’m going to stay on the side of life. I will support the cause of life as governor and as president.”
Pence, meanwhile, professed his Christian faith and said after he “gave [his] life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior” and read Jeremiah 1:5 (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”), he went on to be a “champion for life in Congress.”
“It’s a moral issue,” said Pence, who supports a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks. “Can’t we have a minimum standard in every state in the nation: When a baby is capable of feeling pain, an abortion cannot be allowed?”
Scott echoed the call for a national abortion standard. “We can’t let [blue states] have abortion on demand up to birth,” he said. “It is immoral, unethical, and wrong."
Burgum, in contrast, claimed abortion should not be decided at the federal level. “[W]e should not have a federal abortion ban,” he said, citing the 10th Amendment, which acknowledges that most powers in the U.S. are reserved to the states. “I say we should follow the Constitution.”
Asked about the crime plaguing American cities, Ramaswamy said the solution is “more cops in the streets, who are on the streets, able to do their jobs.”
Ramaswamy also cited mental health as a driving factor in that crisis, calling it a “deeper issue” and arguing that “faith-based” efforts can play a role in addressing it. “People are so hungry for purpose and meaning,” he said.
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DeSantis said “radical left-wing district attorneys” funded by billionaire George Soros have been looking the other way on crime throughout the U.S.
“We had two of these district attorneys in Florida elected with Soros funding who said they wouldn’t do their job,” DeSantis said. “I removed them from their posts.”
Jan. 6, 2021, controversy
The candidates debated at length the significance of the Jan. 6, 2021, Washington, D.C., riot in which supporters of outgoing President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. They were also asked about Trump’s repeated denials of the legitimacy of the 2020 election outcome.
“Someone’s got to stop normalizing this conduct,” Christie said of those denials, calling it “beneath the office of the president of the United States.”
DeSantis at one point asked with incredulity: “Is this what we’re going to be focusing on?”