DES MOINES, IOWA
JANUARY 10, 2024
8:00 PM: CNN’s debate opens in Des Moines, where the Republican Iowa Caucus is less than a week away. Moderator Jake Tapper tells the two candidates participating, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, “You know the rules, and so do I. A commitment to respectability is what I’m thinking of. You wouldn’t get this from any other guy. I’d like to remind both candidates that I’m never gonna give you up, nor will I let you down.” Co-moderator Dana Bash interrupts him to say she never agreed to let him leave if he Rickrolled the debate and that he was stuck here for the next two hours just like she was.
8:03 PM: Bash begins the questioning by mentioning that former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has ended his candidacy. “Now that the race was down to three candidates, why should voters choose DeSantis over the frontrunner, Donald Trump?” DeSantis claims he’s the only one running who’s had wins against the left, saying, “We beat the teachers’ union, Soros, Fauci, schoolchildren, and most marine life.” Bash asks Haley the same question. Haley answers, “We can all see the world is on fire, but Ron DeSantis is lying about it. Go to DeSantis Lies dot com to see all the lies he’s told. Just don’t take a drink every time he tells a lie, though, or you’ll be far too drunk to log onto your personal computing devices and type in the website ‘DeSantis Lies,’” adding after a pause, “dot com.”
8:21 PM: Tapper asks the candidates if they think Donald Trump has the moral character to be president again. “Trump was the right president for the right time,” Haley says, “but I don’t have vendettas, and I don’t take things personally. I’m all about no whining and no drama. I’m not like other girls, and I think you should pick me.” DeSantis says that he’s the guy with integrity. “Trump said he would do many terrible things and never delivered. I will do the terrible things.”
8:42 PM: The candidates are asked how they would make things more affordable for families. “We have to acknowledge the situation,” Haley says. “We have millions of Americans on Medicaid and food stamps. That’s terrible. Why are we giving them all this free stuff? If we take it all back, we’ll save so much money, and once all the poor people start dying, the economy’s going to look a whole lot better. Please check out the website Ron DeSantis Lying Liar dot com.” Tapper mentions that DeSantis supports a flat tax, and asks if families should pay the same as billionaires. DeSantis attempts to laugh, but several calcified pieces of corn hurtle from his mouth. “I don’t think that will happen,” he says. “We all know billionaires don’t pay taxes.”
9:39 PM: Tapper asks if the candidates support the mass removal of Palestinians from Gaza. DeSantis nods, “We should support Israel and whoever they want to kill, and however they want to kill them.” Haley agrees. “I actually think that whatever they want to kill, we should doubly support that. Also, if you’re such a big Israel genocide-bestie, Ron, why did you bring the one Republican who hates Israel to campaign with you in Iowa?” DeSantis does his best to roll his oddly unblinking eyes while licking his lips, “Oh gee, I bet she means Congressman Massie. Ugh, so jealous. WOMEN, amirite?” One person in the audience cheers. It’s Congressman Massie.
9:50 PM: Bash calls out DeSantis for going after Disney and asks how that squares with the traditional conservative small-government values. “Disney was trans-ing our kids, and someone had to stop them,” he says. “Nikki Haley wouldn’t—she lets boys go in girls’ bathrooms just like Disney was letting boys go on It’s a Small World, which is a ride with dolls, which means it’s for girls.” Haley responds, “That’s not true. In fact, we’ve just created a new website, Liar Liar Pants On Fire dot com, and its mascot is Ron wearing pants on fire.”
10:35 PM: Bash points out that neither candidate has released a healthcare plan. Haley asks, “How can we be the best country in the world with the most expensive healthcare? My solution is to make everything transparent so that when you are forced to file for bankruptcy from medical debt, you know exactly how many thousands of dollars each hospital’s jello costs before the bank repossesses your house.” DeSantis replies, “Everywhere I go, people are worried about mental health. I approach them like a normal human and say, ‘Hi, I’m Ron DeSantis, and I approve this greeting.’ I tell them we have to their faces that we have to face all of the crises we face in the face. It was wrong to force vaccines. When I’m president, people will be able to die from preventable diseases and take others with them. And if we have zombies, I think as long as those zombies are the same gender as they were before they died, they should have the freedom to infect anyone they want.”
10:51 PM: Tapper asks the candidates what they admire about one another. DeSantis answers that South Carolina isn’t the worst state. Haley says that Ron is very easy to make websites about.
HALEY: “I love Iowa. I drove a tractor and held a pig, and I’m the only one who polls ahead of Trump. I’d make websites about him, but I’m still thinking maybe VP? Anyway, go check out Ron DeSantis Lies Lies Lies Lies Yeah dot com before the Thompson Twins tell us to take it down.”
DESANTIS: “Hold on, I want to repeat what I said at the beginning, but I’ve lost that card. Here it is, ‘Ron, your voice is unbearable to listen to…’ wait, no, that was a note from my campaign manager. Give me a sec, I’ll find it.”