GOP candidates outline their plans

Second Amendment

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(NewsNation) — In the fourth GOP debate, the Republican presidential candidates discussed how they would respond if China invaded Taiwan.

China’s potential threat against Taiwan has become a hot-button issue in the discussions of foreign policy during this election cycle.

The latest NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released Monday found Americans across the political spectrum prefer that U.S. foreign policy for the conflicts in Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan not include sending troops to those regions, though respondents from both parties viewed the three conflicts differently.

Here is what the candidates at the debate had to say on the matter of China and Taiwan.

Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said deterring China would be his “number one national security task” if elected, but hesitated to say he would send troops to Taiwan if China were to invade.

When asked how he would respond to a possible invasion, DeSantis said “We will be able to deter that from happening.”

DeSantis has previously said he would move in the direction of removing China’s permanent normal trade relations status with the U.S. During the debate, he emphasized the importance of protecting Taiwan in order to prevent China’s power from spreading.

“Taiwan is important, not just because of semiconductors, it’s important because if China is able to break out of this first island chain, they’re going to be able to dominate commerce in the entire Indo-Pacific. They will use that to export authoritarianism all around the world, including here in the United States,” DeSantis said during the debate.

Nikki Haley

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley argued the best way to deter China is to build partnerships with India, South Korea, Japan, Australia and the Philippines.

“We have to make sure that we are not relying on China for anything related to our national security, which means let’s start focusing on doing deals with our friends now,” Haley said.

Like DeSantis, Haley has also framed China as the “greatest threat to American security,” accusing both President Biden and former President Donald Trump of mishandling the situation. In the debate, she reaffirmed her commitment to defend Taiwan if China were to invade.

We need to “let China know that there’ll be hell to pay if they go into Taiwan; they need to know that there’s going to be a force that’s going to go against them.” Haley said.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy previously proposed opening a branch of the National Rifle Association in Taiwan and putting an AR-15 in the hands of every family, to “give Xi a taste of American exceptionalism.” During the debate, he said this proposal was part of a larger strategy of deterrence.

“I also do believe the Second Amendment is a critical way of preventing foreign autocrats from being able to … it’s worked in America, why wouldn’t it work in Taiwan? So it is part of a broader strategy,” Ramaswamy said. “But I do think that we need to be specific about our deterrence strategy, or else Xi Jinping is just encroaching by the day.”

Like Haley, Ramaswamy emphasized the need to strengthen relationships with allies in the region.

“We need to get onside in our relationship with India, take it to the next level. India has to be able to block the Andaman Sea, which is where China gets most of its Middle Eastern oil supplies. That’s critical,” Ramaswamy said in the debate.

Chris Christie

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dismissed Ramaswamy’s plans, saying the U.S. doesn’t have constitutional authority over Taiwan, but said he would absolutely send troops to defend them if China invaded.

“I would, as president, have us go militarily and defend them. Secondly, I’m not afraid, based upon those economic relationships to do that, because economic relationships mean nothing, nothing, if what’s going to happen is that China is going to come and act in that region. It’s not right,” Christie said.

When asked about military action against China, Christie earlier said he “would do what needs to be done in terms of using the U.S. military against China” to defend Taiwan. Earlier this year, Christie criticized the Biden administration’s approach to dealing with China and said Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing came “a day late and a dollar short.”

He also criticized former President Donald Trump’s trade relations in China, saying that drove inflation in the U.S.

“All he did was impose tariffs, which raised the prices for every American,” Christie said. “You can’t say he was good on trade because he didn’t … change one Chinese policy in the process. He failed on it.”

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