Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis criticized former President Donald Trump during an interview Tuesday night, saying that the former president needed to show up to this week’s GOP primary debate to defend his record as president.
DeSantis made the remarks during an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham ahead of Wednesday’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. DeSantis, who is second place nationally in current polling, will be at the center of the debate stage since Trump is not attending.
“I think it’s interesting that he is not willing to stand on that stage,” DeSantis said of Trump. “I think he owes it to all the voters to show up, defend his record, and articulate what he would do going forward and what he would might do differently. And he’s not willing to do that. I think the voters have a right to hear from all the candidates.”
“I mean, I think we can talk about a lot of the things — he’s running in 2024 on a lot of the same promises he ran on in 2016 and didn’t deliver on,” he continued. “He said he was going to drain the swamp. They didn’t drain the swamp at all. He still defends hiring Christopher Wray, he didn’t fire Wray. He didn’t fire Fauci. He said Mexico was gonna pay for the border wall. That didn’t happen. They started the wall, but we’ve got a lot more to be able to do to finish the wall. He said he was going to eliminate the national debt. They added almost a trillion dollars to the debt in four years, and then remember, he promised to appoint a special counsel for Hillary Clinton, then after the election two weeks later, he’s like, ‘Oh, no, forget about it. That’s what you say before the election, it’s not what you say after.’ So now, he’s saying he’s going to do one for Biden, but he had promised to do that for you in 2016. So I think it’s about, you got to deliver on these things.”
It sounds like Ron DeSantis has his game plan set for tomorrow’s debate sans Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/Xav36v58wQ
— Jason Rantz on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) September 27, 2023
Trump announced back in August that he would not be attending any of the Republican debates, citing voters’ familiarity with his record and his commanding lead in the national polls, which currently stands at around 40 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.
“Many people are asking whether or not I will be doing the DEBATES?” Trump wrote in a post on his social media platform Truth Social ahead of the first primary debate in August. “ALL AMERICANS have been clamoring for a President of extremely High Intelligence. As everyone is aware, my Poll numbers, over a ‘wonderful’ field of Republican candidates, are extraordinary. In fact, I am leading the runner up, whoever that may now be, by more than 50 Points. Reagan didn’t do it, and neither did others. People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate?”
A few days later, he confirmed that he would not do any of debates. “The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had,” he wrote. “I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!”
Instead of attending the debate Wednesday, Trump is planning to meet with striking autoworkers from the United Auto Workers union in Detroit, Michigan.