Opinion

The Republican debate shows that the party must move towards Haley, DeSantis vs Trump

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The math may be challenging for writers, but the arithmetic underlying Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate is simple and important enough to summarize.

Five candidates took the stage, the far-right favorite was not among them, and only two who did are viable rivals for Donald Trump to retain the nomination.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has long been considered Trump’s most realistic successor, while former ambassador Nikki Haley has run the best campaign of any candidate so far.

As Wednesday’s forum made clear, there is no reason for any of the other participants to move forward.

For the third time in a row, DeSantis and Haley did the most to help themselves, proving that they are the two best candidates on paper and in practice.

Each shrewdly leaned on their respective strengths.

Haley gave focused, policy-driven answers informed by her Reaganite worldview.

DeSantis emphasized the difference between rhetoric and real-world results, citing his record of accomplishments in the Sunshine State at every opportunity.

Even when they were targeted by others, they were the ones who benefited.

In a single sentence, Haley dispatched Vivek Ramaswamy after he all but accused her of war profiteering by declaring that Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are “salivating” at the thought of him ascending to the White House.

DeSantis provided a less clear, but nonetheless notable, example of this phenomenon when he stopped Haley’s swipe at the environment with a soft line on protecting the Everglades.

Chris Christie, Tim Scott and even the disgusting Ramaswamy gave some convincing answers.

But during the night’s preponderance, DeSantis and Haley showed why they are head and shoulders above everyone else in the polls.

Still, it was difficult to shake the feeling that, barring a massive shift in the race, the debate would do little to prevent Trump from reclaiming the nomination.

The favorite has wisely stayed away to date.

To engage him, anti-Trump forces will have to unite around a single candidate.

And before there can be one, Haley and DeSantis must fight without the three losers distracting the attention of the two contenders.

The time has come to put aside egos and abandon the search for cabinet positions.

Basic mathematics and patriotic duty demand that those who have no chance of saving the country from a Trump-Biden rematch at least refrain from condemning it to such a calamity.

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