The top Republican challengers to Donald Trump went after him at their debate Wednesday night in Miami, while the former president didn’t come near the stage again and instead held his own event.
Trump “owes it to you to be on this stage and explain why he should get another chance,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is a distant second in national polls of GOP primary voters.
“He should explain why he didn’t have Mexico pay for the border wall. He should explain why he racked up so much debt. He should explain why he didn’t drain the swamp,” DeSantis also said. In addition, the Florida governor noted Trump said Republicans would “get tired of winning,” but instead the party suffered losses Tuesday as some states held off-year elections.
Meanwhile, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley started out with praise for Trump before criticizing him.
“He was the right president at the right time. I don’t think he’s the right president now,” she said. “He put us $8 trillion in debt, and our kids are never gonna forgive us for that.”
A report last year from the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, found that the legislation and executive actions signed by Trump added $7.8 trillion in 10-year budget deficits.
Haley, who was Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, also said Trump “used to be right on Ukraine and foreign issues” but is now “getting weak in the knees.”