Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley faced off in the final Republican primary debate before the Iowa caucus, where the duo has been fiercely battling for what will likely be second place.
Recent polling on average shows former President Donald Trump scoring 53.3% of the vote in Iowa, with Haley and DeSantis trailing at 18% and 15.5% respectively.
The CNN debate Wednesday night featured just DeSantis and Haley due to Trump’s continued abstention from primary debates, and Vivek Ramaswamy’s failure to qualify (though he also preemptively dropped out from the debate). Hours before the debate, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also suspended his campaign.
Throughout the evening, the duo sparred over who lies more frequently, drawing quips on social media.
“He’s upset about the fact that his campaign is exploding,” Haley said. “You’re going to see the fact that he has switched his policies multiple times and we’ll call that out tonight.”
“But every time he lies—Drake University—don’t turn this into a drinking game because you will be over-served by the end of the night,” she added, referencing the Des Moines university hosting the debate.
According to CBS News, Haley also referred to her campaign’s website “desantislies.com” 16 times throughout the debate.
Users on X joked about making a drinking game not based on the number of times DeSantis lies—but rather based on the number of times Haley mentioned that website.
“Everyone is going to be in the hospital needing a new liver after this,” quipped DeSantis press secretary Jeremy Redfern.
“No thanks I dont want to pass out!!” responded DeSantis rapid response director Christina Pushaw to the game idea.
“I’m about to black out,” joked another user on X.
After the debate, DeSantis deputy campaign manager David Polyansky called Haley’s repeated referencing of the website a crutch, according to CBS News, saying it’s a tool that is used for congressional races and “on the presidential stage, if you rely on it 12 times in a debate, that’s … not a tool, it’s a crutch.”
But it wasn’t just Haley doling out accusations of lying during the debate.
Concluded DeSantis: “One good rule of thumb—if she says she’s never said something, that definitely means she’s said it.”