Forget tax-cut pledges and RINO accusations. Heels, of all things, are the new political cudgel in Republican politics.

For weeks, the question of whether Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida wears heel lifts in his cowboy boots has been the subject of attacks from former President Donald J. Trump and others.

The bizarre meme found its way into the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, when Vivek Ramaswamy used it to go after both Mr. DeSantis and former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, the only woman on the stage in Miami.

Mr. Ramaswamy compared his two Republican rivals to “Dick Cheney in three-inch heels.”

The moment came during an exchange over the U.S. role in the war between Israel and Hamas. Mr. Ramaswamy, the youngest of five Republican presidential candidates at the debate, attempted to separate himself from Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley, both of whom said they would urge Israel to completely eliminate Hamas.

Mr. Ramaswamy said Israel had the right to defend itself, but he wanted to “be careful to avoid making the mistakes from the establishment of the past.”

He asked: “Do you want a leader from a different generation who’s going to put this country first, or do you want Dick Cheney in three-inch heels? In which case, we’ve got two of them onstage tonight.”

Ms. Haley addressed the barb a few minutes later, saying that Mr. Ramaswamy was wrong about her footwear.

“They’re five-inch heels,” she said. “And I don’t wear them unless you can run in them. The second thing I will say is, I wear heels,. They’re not for a fashion statement. They’re for ammunition.”

The debate was still going, but Mr. DeSantis had so far not discussed the particulars of his boots.

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