TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly delivered on her promise to throw fastballs at the fourth Republican National Committee primary debate Wednesday night, asking candidates direct questions from the start.
Within the first 10 minutes of the NewsNation debate, moderated by Kelly, anchor Elizabeth Vargas, and the Washington Free Beacon’s Eliana Johnson, Kelly managed to press Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) on his inability to catch up to former President Donald Trump, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley on her rapidly increased net worth and big donor ties, and Vivek Ramaswamy on his combative rhetoric while branding himself as a unifier.
“You were seen by many as the candidate most likely to consolidate the non-Trump field,” the host of the Megyn Kelly Show on SiriusXM told DeSantis at the outset of the debate. “But here we are a month out from the first real votes, and you haven’t managed to do it.”
She added that Haley is beginning to close in on him and that Trump maintains a significant lead.
“Is it fair to say, as Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) did when he dropped out, that voters are telling you, ‘Not no, but not now?'” she asked the Florida governor.
Viewers quickly applauded Kelly’s direct and hard-hitting approach. “The debate is … well … @megynkelly deserves a TV show in prime time on a network and it would get terrific ratings,” conservative commentator Erick Erickson wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Republican strategist John Ashbrook wrote, “Reminded again tonight that @megynkelly belongs on the first ballot for the debate moderator hall of fame. Always well prepared and equally tough on everybody.”
Kelly was also credited for asking the Republican candidates about transgender treatments and surgeries for children, something she hinted at in an interview with the Washington Examiner before the event.
Kelly asked former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, “How is it that you think a parent should be able to OK these surgeries, never mind the sterilization of a child? And aren’t you way too out of step on this issue to be the Republican nominee?”
She noted, “The surgeries done on minors involve cutting off body parts at a time when these kids cannot even legally smoke a cigarette. Kids who go from puberty blockers to cross-sex hormones are at a much greater likelihood of winding up sterile.”
According to conservative commentator Robby Starbuck, Kelly “threw dirt on the campaign coffin” of Christie with her hard-hitting question on transgender surgeries for minors, which the former New Jersey governor refused to support legislating against.
Kelly was further commended for asking about the COVID-19 vaccine and Operation Warp Speed, which Trump spearheaded during his administration.
“The program protected the drug companies from virtually all lawsuits over vaccine injuries. The government has a program to compensate for such harm, but critics say it is a black hole of bureaucracy — 12,000 claims filed, 10% decided, only a payout so far in a forum with no right to counsel, no hearings, no appeals,” she explained. “Mr. Trump says he’s very proud of Warp Speed. Should he be?” Kelly asked Ramaswamy, who has been hesitant to criticize Trump.
Conservative radio host Steve Deace applauded this, noting it is the first question on the vaccine in all four debates. “This is the fourth debate. @megynkelly — God bless her — finally asks the first question on the poison poke,” he wrote.
The Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats echoed this praise, calling it a “Great question by @megynkelly regarding @realDonaldTrump leadership and on-going support for ‘Operation Warp Speed.’ Most of the #MAGA supporters I visit with can’t stand this government overreach, mandates, and loss of freedom.”