The second Republican debate included heated moments and criticisms of Trump, but ultimately seems to have had no significant influence on the outcome of the race, much like the first debate.
Donald Trump stayed at a different location for the night. The events at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California did not provide any significant challenges to his path towards becoming the nominee.
However, this does not mean that there were no notable moments – there were often ones that were confrontational, focused on specific policies, and at times, strange.
In contrast to the previous gathering, the current candidates wasted no time throwing punches at Trump. Instead of attending, Trump opted to give a speech to auto workers in Michigan. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stuck to his usual criticisms, accusing the ex-president of excessive spending during his term. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also took a swing, calling Trump “absent” from the event.
However, like many times before, the field struggled to focus on the clear favorite. As the night progressed, discussions revolved around smaller issues such as TikTok, claims that entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s words were causing people to become less intelligent, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s argument that the Great Society posed a greater challenge to Black Americans than slavery, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley clarifying that she did not spend money on expensive curtains for her U.N. residence, and former Vice President Mike Pence confirming that he does sleep with his wife.
By the end of the night, Trump had essentially been forgotten – a strange position for a leading candidate, but one that likely benefits him politically. The following are the key moments from the event that he chose not to attend.
The candidates criticized Trump, but not for his legal troubles.
After two hours, the discussion ended with numerous unanswered questions.
A topic that has not been addressed is the legal troubles facing the leading Republican candidate. Trump’s numerous charges could potentially disrupt his campaign, as his court appearances are scheduled for the same time as important events in the Republican primary.
Although Christie and other individuals specifically targeted Trump, criticizing his absence from the debate stage and his failure to address the increase in federal debt during his time as president, his legal issues were not a topic of discussion for his rivals on Wednesday evening.
Whose curtains are they, in the South Carolina showdown?
Scott and Haley must determine who is accountable for the curtains in the U.N. ambassador’s official residence before they can measure the drapes at the White House.
Haley began aggressively targeting Scott, accusing him of being an ineffective senator. She expressed her appreciation for Tim and noted their long-standing acquaintance, but criticized his lack of action during his 12-year tenure.
DeSantis interjected, however the argument between the South Carolina representatives resumed later, with both of them accusing the other of mismanaging government funds.
The debate took a strange turn, devolving into a shouting match about curtains. Scott claimed that Haley had spent $50,000 on curtains during her time as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. However, Haley correctly clarified that it was the Obama administration who had actually purchased the drapes.
The discussion concluded with both of them debating whether or not the curtains had been returned.
The feud continues
Haley and Ramaswamy are once again involved in a dispute, this time regarding TikTok.
Ramaswamy recently signed up for the video-sharing app that his rivals have largely shunned due to its ties to China. And he got asked about it in the debate in a moment that’s sure to go viral on, you guessed it, TikTok.
“I have an unconventional proposal for the Republican Party: We must prioritize winning elections. A crucial aspect of achieving this is by connecting with the next generation on their terms,” stated Ramaswamy. “Our goal of declaring independence from China will only be attainable if we are successful in winning.”
Haley expressed frustration, stating that TikTok is a highly hazardous social media platform. She also remarked that every time she hears the speaker, she feels her intelligence decreasing.
Mike Pence gives us something to talk about
During a 2016 primary debate, Trump made a comment about his sexual history which was not surprising given his past behavior. However, his former running mate did not have a similar reputation.
On Wednesday evening, Pence eagerly seized the chance to express his deep admiration for his spouse. Prior to this, Christie had insinuated that Biden was influenced by teachers’ unions due to his relationship with a union member. (Jill Biden, the first lady, has a lengthy history as an educator.)
Shortly after, Pence revisited the topic to express his admiration for a specific teacher. He disclosed, “Although my spouse is not a part of the teachers union, I must confess that I have been married to a teacher for 38 years.” This statement was met with a shocked hush from the other individuals on stage.
Once completed, moderator Stuart Varney dryly stated, “let’s move on to the next topic.”
Scott: African American families endured slavery, but the challenges of the Great Society are even tougher.
Scott, the sole African American candidate on the platform, briefly denounced DeSantis for a statement in the Florida history syllabus implying that enslaved individuals acquired advantageous abilities, stating “they should have simply removed that sentence.”
However, the senator from South Carolina continued to make a case that our nation has addressed the issue of slavery by acknowledging and facing it head-on. He then shifted the focus to criticizing the welfare policies of the Democratic party that have been in place since the 1960s.
Scott stated that Black families persevered through slavery, poll taxes, and literacy tests, as well as discrimination embedded in our country’s laws. However, he also expressed that the Great Society under President Johnson, which aimed to provide financial assistance but resulted in removing Black fathers from households, has had a detrimental impact on unemployment, crime, and overall devastation.
DeSantis excuses the exceptionally expensive insurance rates in Florida.
The topic of Florida’s expensive insurance rates was brought up to DeSantis – something that Trump has criticized him for.
Varney noted that Florida’s uninsured rate is higher than the national average. In response, DeSantis attempted to clarify by mentioning that his state does not offer many social welfare benefits.
DeSantis stated that success can be achieved in the state without following in the footsteps of California, where there are large numbers of people relying on government programs without any work requirements. The belief is that individuals must work for their benefits, resulting in a low unemployment rate and the highest GDP growth among all major states.
Christie’s nickname of ‘Donald Duck’ is not well received.
Christie is attempting to compete with The Donald when it comes to creating nicknames.
During a direct address to the camera, Christie attempted to shift focus from discussing how he would reduce crime to criticizing the leading candidate who was absent.
“I am aware, Donald, that you are observing. It seems you cannot resist,” Christie remarked, shaking his finger. “Your absence this evening is not due to polls or indictments. You are not here because you fear standing on this stage and defending your actions.”
Christie called out, building up to a rehearsed joke. “If you continue to avoid these issues,” he warned, “you won’t be known as Donald Trump anymore. You’ll be known as Donald Duck.”
Soon after, his team posted a tweet reaffirming this surprising statement.
I still has haters, says Ramaswamy.
Following his aggressive approach during the initial debate, Ramaswamy adopted a more cordial tone on Wednesday, commending all the participants on the stage.
However, not all wounds can be healed by time.
During the second confrontation, Scott unexpectedly attacked Ramaswamy, who had previously accused other candidates of being controlled by outside influences. Scott claimed that Ramaswamy himself was the one being influenced and controlled by China.
Shortly after, Pence made another jab at the novice candidate, stating that Ramaswamy had only begun participating in presidential elections in 2018.
DeSantis criticizes Trump for the first time, while Christie repeats his criticism.
Although Trump was not in California on Wednesday night, both Christie and DeSantis used a question about the cause of the potential government shutdown to criticize the leading Republican candidate.
Christie grouped Trump together with Biden, accusing the Democratic leader of hiding in a basement while Trump takes shelter at his golf clubs.
During the debate, DeSantis, who was placed in the middle of the stage as the top candidate in terms of polls, made a direct criticism. He pointed to laws passed during Trump’s administration that contributed to the country’s rising debt and inflation.
The governor of Florida stated that Donald Trump is not present and should be on stage tonight. He has a responsibility to explain his actions that resulted in a $7.8 trillion increase in debt and subsequent inflation.
The debate over the UAW strike is intensifying.
The opening question of the discussion revolved around the most talked-about issue of the day: the ongoing strike by automobile workers.
Scott, who has previously expressed disapproval of unions, was questioned about his stance on their dismissal. He pointed out that “private employees cannot be fired by the president.” He promptly shifted the conversation to the topic of immigration.
“He believes Joe Biden’s focus should not be on protesting, but on addressing the issues at the southern border and finding a way to close it off,” the speaker stated.
Ramaswamy showed understanding towards the workers, but advised them to protest outside the White House in Washington, D.C. On the other hand, Haley attributed the strike to government spending.
The screen is divided into two parts.
The event held by Trump in Clinton Township, Michigan, started much earlier than when the candidates were brought on stage. Despite Trump being physically present hundreds of miles away while they were backstage, his influence was still evident in Simi Valley.
As those in attendance and members of the media congregated at the Reagan Library, advocates of Trump along the main road leading to the library utilized bullhorns and displayed flags bearing the phrases “He’ll be back” and “Trump 2024.” The Democratic National Committee also had a presence at the event, flying a plane overhead with a banner reading “GOP 2024: A competition for the radical MAGA base.”