The Absence of Trump and Heated Exchanges: Highlights from the Second Republican Primary Debate

On September 27, 2023, the second Republican primary debate took place in California, with seven candidates vying for the party’s nomination for the 2024 election.[0] However, the clear front-runner in the race, former President Donald Trump, was noticeably absent, speaking at a rally in Michigan instead.[1] This absence did not go unnoticed by the other candidates, who took aim at Trump and criticized him for not being present to defend his record.

One of the candidates, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, accused Trump of hiding behind the walls of his golf clubs and avoiding the debate. Christie even went so far as to say that if Trump continued to dodge these events, he would no longer be referred to as Donald Trump, but as Donald Duck.[2] Christie’s comments earned applause from the audience and highlighted the frustration among some candidates towards Trump’s absence.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also criticized Trump for not being on the stage and defending his record. DeSantis argued that Trump owed it to the American people to answer questions and address the concerns raised about his presidency. He pointed to the national debt, which had increased by $7 trillion during Trump’s administration, as a pressing issue that needed to be addressed.[3]

The debate, moderated by Fox News host Dana Perino and Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney, featured lively exchanges among the candidates.[4] One candidate who faced scrutiny was Vivek Ramaswamy, a tech entrepreneur.[5] Some of the candidates targeted Ramaswamy for his business ties in China and his use of TikTok.[6] South Carolina Senator Tim Scott accused Ramaswamy of having connections to the Chinese Communist Party and money going to Hunter Biden. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley also criticized Ramaswamy, saying that every time she heard him speak, she felt a little bit dumber.[5]

Haley herself was seen as a winner of the debate, with her strong and direct approach to addressing issues.[2] She was praised for her ability to appeal to different factions within the Republican Party, without alienating Trump-supporting voters. Haley’s performance in the debate helped solidify her position as a serious candidate and a potential alternative to Trump.[2]

Overall, the second Republican primary debate did little to shake up the dynamics of the race. Trump’s absence was felt, and the other candidates tried to make their mark, but it remained to be seen whether any of them could significantly challenge Trump’s lead among primary voters. The next debate, scheduled for November 8 in Miami, will have even stricter requirements for participation, further narrowing down the field of contenders.[7]

In conclusion, the second Republican primary debate highlighted the absence of former President Donald Trump and the frustration among the other candidates.[1] The debate featured heated exchanges and criticisms of Trump’s record. Candidates like Chris Christie and Ron DeSantis called out Trump for not defending his record and avoiding the debate. Meanwhile, candidates like Nikki Haley stood out for their strong performances. The debate did little to alter the dynamics of the race, and the next debate will have stricter requirements for participation.

0. “Second Republican Debate: The Biggest Moments” TIME, 28 Sep. 2023,

1. “Republican Debate: Live Updates, Analysis, and How to Watch” New York Magazine, 28 Sep. 2023,

2. “Who won the Republican presidential debate? Our winners and losers” The Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2023,

3. “GOP candidates pounce on “Donald Duck” Trump at second debate” Axios, 28 Sep. 2023,

4. “Watch the Full GOP Republican Debate Live on Fox News | 2023 Presidential Debate” Fox News, 22 Sep. 2023,

5. “Live updates: Republican presidential debate on Fox Business and Univision 0” CNN, 28 Sep. 2023,

6. “2nd Republican presidential debate spotlights health care, Ukraine, energy, education and more: Full coverage” Yahoo News, 28 Sep. 2023,

7. “What to expect at the second Republican debate of 2024 US presidential race” Al Jazeera English, 27 Sep. 2023,

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