Christie and DeSantis promptly attacked Trump for skipping the controversy.

Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey used his first reply of the controversy to assault the absent former President Donald J. Trump.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida quickly adopted.

The two candidates went proper at Mr. Trump for skipping a second debate in a row, portray him as cowardly and as skirting the democratic course of.

But Mr. Christie was geared up with multiple canned assault. After the primary business break, he turned on to the digicam in the midst of a solution to deal with the previous president.

“Donald, I know you’re watching, you can’t help yourself,” Mr. Christie mentioned. “You’re not here tonight, not because of polls, and not because of your indictments. You’re not here tonight because you’re afraid of being on the stage and defending your record. You’re ducking these things, and let me tell you what’s going to happen. You keep doing that, and no one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

Mr. Christie had issued an identical taunt early within the debate, saying that Mr. Trump “hides behind the walls of his golf clubs.” His quip was shortly echoed by Mr. DeSantis.

“Where’s Joe Biden?” Mr. DeSantis mentioned. “He’s completely missing in action from leadership. And you know who else is missing in action? 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 that we have.”

That Mr. Christie would instantly criticize Mr. Trump isn’t any shock, as he has made attacking the previous president central to his marketing campaign. He did so once more minutes later, saying Mr. Trump had constructed solely 52 miles of a wall alongside the southern border.

But Mr. DeSantis’s assault was a marked change from his posture within the first debate, reflecting an effort to attract extra stark contrasts with Mr. Trump.

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