GOP candidates pounce on “Donald Duck” Trump at second debate

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Gov. Chris Christie took aim Wednesday at former President Trump for missing the second GOP primary debate.

Driving the news: Christie accused Trump of being “afraid of being on stage and defending your record. You’re ducking these things. … If you keep doing that … they’ll call you Donald Duck.”

  • “[Trump] hides behind the walls of his golf clubs and won’t show up here to answer questions like all the rest of us are up here to answer,” Christie said.

Zoom in: DeSantis has been ramping up his attacks against the former president — and the Florida governor’s sharp criticism during his opening remarks underscores his shifting strategy.

  • “Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be on the stage tonight,” DeSantis said.
  • “He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt. That set the stage for the inflation that we have,” he said.

Between the lines: Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who served during the Trump administration, criticized her former boss for his handling of China.

  • “He focused on trade with China. He did not focus on the fact that they were buying up our farmland and he did not focus on the fact that they were killing Americans.”

The big picture: Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican primary, has said that he will not participate in the Republican primary debates.

  • He skipped the second debate in Simi Valley, California, and instead delivered a primetime speech to former and current union members in Detroit.

The bottom line: At the end of the debate, Christie told viewers that he would vote Trump “off the island.”