DeSantis Takes Swing at Trump, Christie Calls Him “Donald Duck” at GOP Debate
As the GOP presidential hopefuls came face to face on Wednesday for the second Republican primary debate, Florida Governor DeSantis took an early swing at Donald Trump after facing criticism for going soft on the former US President.
DeSantis criticized Trump’s absence from the debate, stating, “And you know who is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action,” and blasting the former president for avoiding questions. This criticism echoed similar remarks from former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who accused Trump of “hiding behind the walls of his golf clubs” instead of facing the debate stage. Christie humorously added, “No one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re going to call you Donald Duck.”
Former President Trump had announced in August that he would skip the debates, citing a lack of need to engage with his distant challengers.
DeSantis’ Shift in Strategy
DeSantis’ swipe at Trump marked a notable shift for the Florida governor, who had largely avoided pointed criticism of the former president in the first debate.
The Trump campaign released a statement ahead of the debate, mocking DeSantis and predicting that he would “flail around like a bobblehead on stage while trying to gaslight voters about President Trump’s record.” Despite Trump’s ongoing legal troubles, including multiple criminal cases, he maintained a strong lead, with 59 percent of Republican primary voters favoring him in a new NBC News poll.
Republican Candidates at the Debate
Seven candidates met the Republican National Committee’s qualifying criteria to appear at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California, for the second debate. Alongside DeSantis were political outsider Vivek Ramaswamy, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, former vice president Mike Pence, and Chris Christie. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum rounded out the field for the clash.
Key Issues Discussed
The event kicked off with a question about handling the autoworkers’ strike. While Ramaswamy voiced sympathy with the workers, Senator Tim Scott emphasized the need for President Joe Biden to address border security, stating, “Joe Biden should not be on the picket line. He should be on the southern border, working to close our southern border because it is unsafe, wide open, and insecure.”
Despite the spirited exchanges and humorous jabs, the second Republican primary debate shed light on the candidates’ positions on critical issues and their strategies for securing the nomination.