Former President Trump Fires Back after Republican Opponents Take Turns Bashing Him in GOP Debate

Former President Donald Trump, responding to heated criticism from his primary opponents during the second Republican debate, said it was “much more important” for him to work to “save” autoworkers Wednesday evening than to appear at the debate because of his substantial lead in the primary polls, and dismissed Chris Christie’s “Donald Duck” nickname for him.

To the dismay of his primary opponents, Trump didn’t attend the second GOP debate in Simi Valley, California, who repeatedly brought him up and stressed that he should have been onstage to defend his administration’s record.

“I thought it was much more important, considering I have a 56-point lead, for me to be dealing with the UAW and the fact that the Biden Administration is going to destroy their jobs over the next two years by going all-electric vehicle,” said Trump in an exclusive interview Wednesday night with Fox News Digital. 

On Wednesday night, the former president spoke before a crowd of autoworkers in Clinton Township, Michigan, and emphasized that if he is elected, the future of automobiles will be “Made in America.”

“The crowd was incredible — unreal,” said Trump. “I think we have great support to save the autoworker.”

However, during the debate, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie laid into Trump, saying, “Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself. You’re ducking these things. And let me tell you what’s going to happen. You keep doing that; no one here’s going to call you Donald Trump anymore. “We’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

Trump said he hadn’t been watching but quickly dismissed the nickname.

“Anybody that would come up with that nickname shouldn’t be running for president,” Trump told Fox News Digital. 

The most recent poll by Fox News shows 60% of GOP primary voters supporting Trump for the GOP nomination — up from 53% in the last survey of August. 

The only other candidates with double-digit support on the poll are DeSantis with 13% and Ramaswamy with 11%.

Haley holds at 5%, with Scott and Pence at 3% each. Christie is polling at 2%, with the remaining Republican candidates receiving less than 1%.

According to a new poll by the Washington Post and ABC over the weekend, Trump currently leads President Joe Biden by 10 points in a head-to-head general election survey among voters. The poll said if the presidential election 2024 were held today, Trump would win 52% to 42% over Biden. 

In the meantime, Biden’s approval rating sits at 37%, according to the poll. Fifty-six percent of respondents actively disapprove of his presidency.

Sparks fly between GOP candidates

Former governor of South Carolina and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley took a sharp jab at Vivek Ramaswamy. He told him she feels “a little bit dumber” after hearing him speak about TikTok.

“This is infuriating because TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we could have…Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say,” said Haley after Ramaswamy defended his use of TikTok for campaigning.

Haley continued to rail against the threat of China stealing American’s personal information through TikTok, owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance.

“We can’t trust you,” added Haley.

Ramaswamy responded with a call for “a legitimate debate” instead of hurling personal insults.

Fireworks ignited between Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and Ramaswamy as they traded shots over Ramaswamy’s comment during the first debate. 

Scott tore into Ramaswamy during the debate, and the two got into a raucous back-and-forth with the businessman’s comments in August that the other candidates were “bought and paid for.”

“I’m the only person on this stage who isn’t bought and paid for,” declared Ramaswamy last month, eliciting boos. 

Ramaswamy pushed back and called Scott’s comments “nonsense” as the bitter debate continued.

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis defended the Sunshine State’s African-American history curriculum during Wednesday’s second GOP presidential debate, claiming the outage was due to a “hoax” perpetuated by Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Critics of Florida’s new curriculum focused on the line, “Instruction includes how slaves develop skills, which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit.” 

Harris and left-wing media outlets claimed that Florida’s curriculum teaches students slaves in the United States “benefitted from slavery” — an accusation fiercely denied by the DeSantis administration. 

When asked about the curriculum along with the outrage it has received, Gov. DeSantis said, “So first of all, that’s a hoax that was perpetrated by Kamala Harris. We are not going to be doing that.”

“Second of all, that was written by descendants of slaves. These are great black history scholars. So, we need to stop playing these games,” continued DeSantis. “Here’s the deal. Our country’s education system is in decline because it’s focused on indoctrination, denying parents’ rights. Florida represents the revival of American education. We’re ranked number one in the nation in education by U.S. News and World Report.”

“My wife and I, we have a six, five, and three-year-old. This is personal to us. We didn’t just talk about universal school choice. We enacted universal school choice. We didn’t just talk about the Parent’s Bill of Rights. …We now have American civics in the Constitution, in our schools in a really big way, just like President Reagan asked for in his farewell address back in 1989. Florida is showing how it’s done. We’re standing with parents, and our kids are benefitting.”