Donald Trump skips GOP debate again

Simi Valley, Calif.: Several of Donald Trump’s rivals stepped up their attacks against him in Wednesday’s second Republican presidential debate, urgently trying to dent the former president’s commanding primary lead during an event that often seemed like an undercard without him.

Trump went to Michigan, aiming to capitalize on the autoworkers’ strike in a key state that could help decide the general election. His competitors, meanwhile, were asked by Fox Business moderators at the Ronald Reagan library in California to participate in a reality show-style game where they would write who else onstage they would vote “off the island.” They refused.

The debate’s tone was far removed from a campaign that’s been driven by Trump’s attacks on his rivals and democratic institutions as well as his grievances about a litany of criminal indictments and civil cases targeting him and his businesses. The moderators did not ask about the indictments or why the people onstage were better qualified than Trump, instead posing questions about issues including education, economic policy and the U.S.-Mexico border.

The candidates often went after Trump on their own, hoping to distinguish themselves at a critical moment with less than four months before the Iowa caucuses launch the presidential nomination process. Trump has continued to dominate the field even as he faces a range of vulnerabilities, including four criminal cases that raise the prospect of decades in prison.

“He should be on this stage tonight,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is attempting to establish himself as the leading Trump alternative despite recent struggles to break out from the rest of the pack.

“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 we have now.”

Several others blistered Trump for not showing up, a departure from the first debate, when the field mostly lined up behind the former president. DeSantis said just a few minutes in that President Joe Biden was “completely missing in action from leadership. And you know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action.”

Image courtesy of The General Gazette

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