Five GOP presidential candidates sparred at the third Republican debate Wednesday night, and one of the most contentious issues was…TikTok.
The Chinese-owned video app has long been a boogeyman for lawmakers who fear the Chinese government could use it to obtain Americans’ data. The NBC News debate moderators asked the candidates if they would “ban or force the sale of TikTok” if they became president, referencing an essay by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) about, in Gallagher’s words, “pro-Hamas propaganda” allegedly proliferating on the app.
“TikTok is not only spyware—it is polluting the minds of American young people all throughout this country, and they’re doing it intentionally,” former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said, adding he’d ban the app in his first week in the Oval Office.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also pledged to ban TikTok, calling it part of a “full-spectrum approach to be able to fend China off.” (He has signed legislation to restrict the app as governor.)
After moderator Hugh Hewitt asked Vivek Ramaswamy how he’d ban TikTok given that Ramaswamy actually uses it, the candidate got personal. He said that while former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley had previously criticized him for using the app, Haley’s own daughter—25-year-old Rena Haley—uses it, too.
“You might want to take care of your family first,” Ramaswamy said to Haley.
“Leave my daughter out of your voice,” Haley replied. (NBC News reported that Haley’s daughter was actually in the debate audience Wednesday, and she appeared on stage at the end of the night.)
Ramaswamy’s barb garnered boos from the crowd—and another sharp rebuke from Haley. “You’re just scum,” she muttered.
Tonight's GOP debate took a nasty turn when Vivek Ramaswamy accused Nikki Haley of hypocrisy for criticizing him for being on TikTok when her daughter uses the app.
— POLITICO (@politico) November 9, 2023