Recap: Notable Candidates Clash on Abortion in November 2023 Republican Presidential Primary Debate

The Republican presidential primary debate held on November 8, 2023, in Miami, Florida, showcased a lineup of notable candidates vying for the party’s nomination. Among the candidates present were former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.[0]

The topic of abortion took center stage during the debate, with candidates expressing a range of views on the issue. Christie stood out from the field by advocating for the decision on abortion regulations to be left to individual states. He argued that the founders of the United States were wise in granting states the authority to decide on such matters.

However, Christie also expressed his moral outrage at late-term abortions, particularly in his home state of New Jersey, where he claimed abortions are performed up to nine months into pregnancy.[1] He criticized his fellow Republicans for flip-flopping on the issue, pointing out that they had previously advocated for states’ rights but then called for a federal ban after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

The debate was not without its contentious moments. In a heated exchange, Haley lashed out at Ramaswamy, telling him to “leave my daughter out of your voice” and calling him “scum.”[2] Ramaswamy had made a comment about heels, to which Haley responded by stating that her heels were not a fashion statement but rather a form of ammunition.[3]

Haley also took aim at Ramaswamy’s presidential prospects, claiming that his potential candidacy would be met with enthusiasm from Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping.[3] She warned that these leaders would relish the opportunity to have someone like Ramaswamy as president.

The Trump campaign, in a post-debate statement, attacked both Haley and DeSantis, further solidifying Haley’s standing as a contender in the race. However, DeSantis’s campaign argued that if Haley were seen as a more significant threat, she would face more attacks from the Trump campaign.[4]

Christie also took a swipe at former President Donald Trump, suggesting that anyone consumed with legal troubles would not be fit to lead the Republican Party or the country. Christie’s remark referred to Trump’s ongoing legal issues, which the former president has denied any wrongdoing.

In terms of abortion, Haley made it clear that while she personally holds a pro-life stance, she does not judge those who are pro-choice.[5] She emphasized the importance of mutual respect and understanding between individuals with differing views on the issue.

The debate also touched on the political landscape surrounding abortion. Candidates had to acknowledge that voters have consistently endorsed abortion rights through state ballot initiatives, even after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.[6] This indicates that the pro-life movement is still grappling with finding solid political footing.[6]

Overall, the Republican presidential primary debate provided a platform for candidates to express their views on abortion and other key issues. It showcased a diverse range of perspectives within the party, highlighting the challenges and complexities surrounding this polarizing topic.

0. “Up First briefing: GOP debate takeaways; striking actors and studios reach a deal” NPR, 9 Nov. 2023,

1. “Who ‘won’ the GOP debate tonight on NBC News? Trump, again.” MSNBC, 9 Nov. 2023,

2. “Another chance to critique Trump gets lost in side fights at 3rd GOP debate: ANALYSIS” ABC News, 9 Nov. 2023,

3. “The most memorable lines from the third Republican presidential debate” The Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023,

4. “Haley readies for Miami debate clash with DeSantis in fight to be top Trump alternative” The State, 7 Nov. 2023,

5. “Abortion Rights Keep Winning Elections. But Republican Candidates Tip-Toed Around It. – Mother Jones” Mother Jones, 9 Nov. 2023,

6. “GOP presidential candidates face abortion questions after election losses” Axios, 9 Nov. 2023,

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