Who won the debate? Rivals fight to shine with Trump off stage | ET REALITY

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The second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night included personal and political clashes between the candidates, many attacks aimed at “Bidenomy” and mockery of former President Donald J. Trump, the front-runner who once again refused to join his rivals. on the stage. .

Commentators were divided over who performed best, but most agreed that the debate probably did little to alter the trajectory of the race or devour Trump’s victory. 40 points ahead in the polls. (In some polls, that lead is 50 points.) Despite an attempt by Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, to brand Trump as “Donald Duck” for ducking the debate, the no-show approach appears to be working.

“None of them created a memorable moment, so it all seemed like a missed opportunity,” said Monica Crowley, a conservative commentator who was a Treasury Department spokeswoman during the Trump administration. “Without an individual breakthrough, the dynamics of this race remain the same, with Trump far and away in the lead.”

Although the debate lacked clear momentum, experts praised Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor, and Tim Scott, South Carolina senator, for some intense exchanges. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has come in second in most polls, appeared to hold his ground, but he is unlikely to gain ground on Trump.

DeSantis has faced criticism for his clumsiness on the campaign trail and for appearing irascible on the debate stage. On Wednesday night, he received praise for a crisp, measured performance.

“He rejected arguments of bad faith without seeming unpleasant and responded with a record of achievements while rejecting clown show proposals,” he said. Dana Loesch, conservative radio host and former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association.. “Everyone else on that stage is auditioning for vice president, cable news or editor.”

DeSantis seemed more comfortable talking about his economic record in Florida and taking an aggressive tone against China.

While he avoided any stumbles, he still lost style points with some viewers.

“Ron DeSantis, you don’t need to smile throughout the entire debate,” he said. Megyn Kelly, former Fox News host. “Whoever told you that tricked you.”

Nikki Haley, a former governor who served as ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, once again demonstrated her prowess with foreign and domestic policy.

Haley tangled with Scott, a former ally whom she appointed to the Senate when she was governor in 2012, but also demonstrated an ability to shut down Vivek Ramaswamy, who has been an upstart candidate early in the race.

“Every time I hear you, I feel a little dumber,” Haley told Ramaswamy during an exchange about her TikTok use.

Such stings drew applause from observers such as BBC correspondent Katty Kay.

“Haley is taking the fight to the people on stage more than anyone else,” said Mrs. Kay.

For senators who are used to delivering long speeches without interruption in Washington, presidential debates can sometimes be a struggle.

Scott brought new energy to the debate, criticizing Haley over South Carolina’s gas taxes and even falsely accusing her of ordering expensive curtains for her apartment while she was a UN ambassador.

“Tim Scott, who was almost vacant in the last debate, was much more aggressive here,” David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s former chief strategist, told CNN.

But Scott was also defeated relatively easily, offering weak defenses for the federal debt that has accumulated while he was a senator and presenting his Senate committee positions as credentials that have prepared him to handle a crisis as president.

Trump’s rivals confronted him more directly about his absence on Wednesday, challenging him to defend his record.

DeSantis characterized Trump as “missing in action,” while Christie accused the former president of being afraid to join the other candidates on stage.

But beyond some gentle criticism of Trump for raising the debt and failing to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it, the candidates largely dismissed the former president.

After the debate, the Trump campaign asked the Republican National Committee to cancel any future debates so the party could focus on attacking President Biden.

“The only winner: Trump because he is not even close” wrote conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Xthe platform formerly known as Twitter.

Alicia McFadden contributed reports.

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