The tension among Indian-American Republican candidates reached new heights as former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley engaged in a heated exchange with tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy during the party's third presidential primary debate in Miami.
The clash cantered around the US policy on TikTok and whether it should be banned due to its Chinese ownership. Ramaswamy, 38, brought up Haley's daughter's use of TikTok, stating, “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.”
In response, Haley vehemently defended her daughter, urging Ramaswamy to "leave my daughter out of your voice" and eventually resorting to calling him "just a s**m."
Taking the feud to social media, Haley continued her criticism of Ramaswamy on her X handle. However, some netizens dismissed her approach as "cringe," particularly when she declared, "Vivek, I wear heels. They're not for a fashion statement -- they're for ammunition."
This clash was not the first between the two candidates. In a previous debate, Haley criticized Ramaswamy for his lack of experience in foreign policy issues. In response, Ramaswamy's campaign accused Haley of intentionally lying to secure funds for her struggling establishment campaign.
Haley, in turn, accused Ramaswamy of lacking foreign policy experience, stating, "Vivek has no foreign policy experience, and it shows."
Ramaswamy further stirred the pot by using the name 'Namrata Randhawa' instead of Nikki Haley on his website. However, Haley dismissed this as a "childish name game," emphasizing that she was born with Nikki on her birth certificate, raised as Nikki, and married a Haley.
A recent survey by the Des Moines Register indicated a 10-point climb for Haley to 16%, putting her on par with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Despite the intense competition between Haley and Ramaswamy, three other candidates—former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Governor Ron DeSantis, and Senator Tim Scott—also shared the stage in the third debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
Notably absent from the debate was former President Donald Trump, who maintained a substantial lead in polls and chose to hold a rally near the Miami debate site in Hialeah, Florida, instead.
(With agency inputs)