Republican Candidates Criticize Trump’s Absence from Debate

Seven presidential hopefuls clashed over immigration controls and the economy Wednesday at the second Republican primary debate. However, they also took the opportunity to criticize frontrunner Donald Trump for opting out of the debate. Trump, 77, had announced in August that he would skip the debates, stating that he had no need to waste time on his distant challengers. Instead, Trump met with auto industry workers in Michigan. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie accused Trump of hiding “behind the walls of his golf clubs” for not attending the debates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, and Mike Pence were among the candidates present at the debate. Tim Scott and Doug Burgum also participated in the clash at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California. More than 2,000 miles away in Michigan, Trump was focused on boosting his blue-collar credentials and dismantling President Joe Biden’s pro-worker reputation. Trump criticized Biden for his handling of union strikes and claimed Biden’s entire career has been “an act of economic treason and union destruction.” The debate addressed the ongoing strike by the United Auto Workers union against automakers General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis. While some candidates showed sympathy for the workers, Scott emphasized immigration as his priority. Trump remains the leading candidate despite his legal troubles, with 59 percent of Republican primary voters choosing him as their top choice in a recent NBC News poll. DeSantis, the distant runner-up with 16 percent, criticized Trump for not attending the debate and accused him of adding to the national debt. Christie criticized Trump’s record on controlling immigration, and Haley discussed her stance on enforcing laws for immigrants entering the country.

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