2nd GOP debate: Ron DeSantis and Chris Christie call out Donald Trump  

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie criticised former president Donald Trump at the second GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California Wednesday.  

Seven Republican presidential hopefuls who participated in the debate included North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Christie, DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Caroline Senator Tim Scott. 

DeSantis took a jab at Trump for “missing in action” as the former president skipped the second GOP debate. “He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.  

The dig from DeSantis, whose poll numbers have declined after having been broadly viewed as the main Trump alternative, suggested he was able to go after the leader while generally staying away from face to face a conflict. 

A frequent critic of Trump, Christie said the former president is “afraid” and mocked him as “Donald Duck” for skipping the debate. 

Meanwhile, Mike Pence, former vice president said he would take an opposite approach to Trump if elected. He added Trump planned to centralise power in the federal government, but he would give more power to the states. “States are going to help bring America back,” he said. 

The different candidates prepared their fire on Democratic President Joe Biden – and on one another, as the discussion sporadically reverted into turmoil with the candidates yelling over each other on issues ranging from China to the economy to immigration.  

Frequently they talked over each other as mediators battled to control them. 

Each of the candidates promised to refuse to compromise on movement and went after the Biden administration for neglecting to stem the transient emergency that has powered record illegal crossings at the southern border. 

President Joe Biden was raising campaign cash in San Francisco on Wednesday. He wasn’t paying them much attention because he’s already zeroing in on Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner who missed the debate.  

Biden has been increasingly calling out Trump by name and referring to him as his “likely opponent” in 2024 election, signalling a likely rematch. “I’m running because Democracy is still at stake in 2024. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy,” he said during a fundraiser, referring to a Trump campaign slogan and skipping entirely over Trump’s GOP rivals. 

Biden’s tour to the West this week is counterprogramming of sorts as a government shutdown looms, House Republicans launch impeachment hearings and Trump makes a campaign stop in Michigan to court autoworkers. 

Though Trump is facing numerous criminal indictments, including his role in overturning the 2020 election that he lost to the president, he is still the most popular choice among Republicans at this point for the party’s White House nomination. 

Almost 63 percent of Republicans presently say they believe he should run once more, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. That is up somewhat from the 55 percent who said the same in April when Trump started having to deal with a series of criminal charges. 

While 74% of Republicans say they would support Trump in November 2024. Nearly 53 percent of those in the poll say they would not support him if he were a nominee. An additional 11 percent say they would likely not support him at all. 

Biden doesn’t fare too well, with 26 percent wanting to see him run once more, while 47 percent Democrats saying they believe he should run, in contract to 37 percent in January.  

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