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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Second GOP debate talks frustrations about Trump skipping debates

Outside of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where the second Republican Presidential Debate was held.
Wiki Commons
Outside of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where the second Republican Presidential Debate was held.

Seven Republicans vying for the party’s nomination attended the second Republican Presidential Debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, Sept. 27. The GOP has hosted debates for every single presidential election cycle since 2008 at the Reagan Library. 

In order to participate in the GOP’s debate and make their voices heard by millions of Americans, candidates had to satisfy a variety of criteria set by the party, including polling and fundraising thresholds, as well as a pledge that states candidates must support the eventual party nominee. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum all participated in the debate. 

Absent from the debate was the party’s front runner, former President Donald Trump. Trump, who has skipped both of his party’s primary debates so far, spoke to striking members of the United Auto Workers Union.

However, this did not mean that candidates ignored the elephant (not) in the room. DeSantis, who stood center stage, repeatedly threw jabs at Trump. 

“Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be on this stage tonight. 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,” DeSantis said. 

Additionally, Christie said he believed Trump was “ducking” criticisms of his presidency by opting to not attend the debate — going as far as to compare Trump to an animated Disney character. 

“…You’re not here tonight because you’re afraid of being on this stage and defending your record,” Christie said. “You’re ducking these things. You keep doing that, and no one up here is going to call you Donald Trump, they’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

While frustrations surrounding Trump’s decision to not attend the debate is not a viewpoint unique to the candidates on the stage, Republicans at Suffolk University have mixed feelings.. 

“I am torn between President Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy,” said Suffolk sophomore Anthony Cutler. “I’m not inclined to favor one over the other, because Trump has his set of accomplishments, he is the former president and the candidate I was initially supporting, but some of his recent actions, like skipping the debates and supporting left-wing governors over Ron DeSantis, opened me up to Vivek who I think is most similar to him.”

However, Suffolk junior Logan Zaino believes the nomination is Trump’s to lose. 

“I think Trump knows that he is going to win. He knows how ahead he is in the polls. It doesn’t matter whether we want him to come to the debates or not, because he’s not going to,” Zaino said. “Unless he goes to jail for his charges, or something else happens, he knows he has it in the bag.”

Zaino’s beliefs about Trump’s spot in the 2024 primary seem to be beliefs that many other Republicans have as well. In a poll conducted by J.L. Partners, 27% of viewers believed Trump won the presidential debate by not showing up, with Ramaswamy in second at 26% and DeSantis in third at 17%.

In terms of the debate itself, students felt the moderators largely failed to maintain control of the conversation. At times in the debate, Zaino said, there would be so many candidates talking over each other that it became difficult to understand what they were saying. 

“It was not run well. FOX didn’t do their due-diligence in ensuring a proper debate. Everybody was interrupting each other. I saw elements of how people have been saying it was a clown show,” Zaino said of the debate. “It was not run properly.”

With the next GOP debate scheduled for Nov. 8, the number of candidates in attendance is expected to decrease, which could help to alleviate the issue of interruptions on stage. After all, the purpose of a primary debate is to have important policy discussions in order to select a nominee, and this may be the candidates’ last real shot at making their case known to the American people before the Iowa Caucus in January.

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About the Contributor
Harry Murphy, Staff Writer | he/him
Harry is a junior Broadcast Journalism major from Walpole, Massachusetts. Harry is an Eagle Scout who enjoys being outdoors, and loves spending time with family and friends. In his free time, he enjoys running around the city, or watching any of Boston’s four major sports teams. After graduation, Harry hopes to work as a political correspondent.
Follow Harry on Twitter @harrymurphy1776

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