Republican leader and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley came down heavily on Vivek Ramaswamy’s statement about her daughter’s TikTok activity in response to a question about banning the Chinese-owned social media application.
Ms Haley called Mr Ramaswamy “scum” as five potential candidates locked horns at the third Republican presidential debate over Israel, Ukraine, China, and the party’s future course, while also holding back some of their criticism for the absent front-runner, Donald Trump.
Having joined TikTok earlier this year, Mr Ramaswamy made reference to Ms Haley’s previous criticism of his presence on the platform during the second Republican primary debate held in California in September.
“In the last debate, she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time. So you might want to take care of your family first,” Mr Ramaswamy said.
“Leave my family out of your voice,” Ms Haley interjected.
But the Indian-origin Mr Ramaswamy continued over audible reaction from the crowd. “The next generation of Americans are using it, and that’s actually the point,” he said.
“You’re just scum,” Ms Haley muttered into the microphone
The animosity between Ms Haley and Mr Ramaswamy has been simmering since the early Republican debates. At the first debate in Milwaukee, Ms Haley took aim at Mr Ramaswamy’s limited foreign policy experience, delivering a scathing critique of his qualifications. This initial clash set the stage for a deepening rift between the two candidates, which was further exacerbated at the subsequent debate in California.
“Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber,” Ms Haley said in response to Ramaswamy at the second debate.
Former US President Donald Trump, who has consistently reigned supreme in every major Republican nomination poll, opted to skip the Republican debate for the third consecutive time, choosing instead to hold a rally just a stone’s throw away.