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GOP Debate Contenders Insist Trump Should Have Shown Up, Then Have Heated Exchange Over... Curtains

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Have you ever come out of a terrible movie and turned to your significant other and quipped, “Well, there’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back?”

At approximately 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, untold numbers of Republican couples across America turned to one another and said just that.

The second GOP presidential debate — sans Donald Trump, of course — ended way past many Americans’ bedtimes, and if you stayed up to watch it, well, the best I can say is that you’ve definitely done more than your civic responsibility for the week.

Yes, several candidates made salient points over the two-hour affair at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. They were mostly drowned out by campaign talking points that any sufficiently trained parrot could recite.

Finally, a group of conservative politicians willing to take a bold stand against fentanyl addiction, the Chinese Communist Party and illegal immigration. It’s high time someone had the courage to say those things.

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If there was one thing you could find some agreement on, when the candidates were asked, it’s that 2024 front-runner and former President Donald Trump should have been there.

Take Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a distant second to Trump in polling. While noting that President Joe Biden “is completely missing in action in leadership,” he also alleged Biden wasn’t the only one.

“And you know who else is missing in action?” DeSantis said. “Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be on this stage tonight.

“He owes it to you to explain his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt, that set the stage for the inflation that we have now,” he continued, to applause. “I can tell you this, as governor of Florida: We cut taxes, we ran surpluses.”

DeSantis wasn’t the only one spoiling for a fight with Trump. In what had to be the second-most cringeworthy moment of the night, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that, if Trump kept missing debates, he’d earn the nickname “Donald Duck.”

“I’ll look in the camera right now and tell you, Donald, I know you’re watching,” said Christie, trying on his faux-New Jersey tough guy persona. “You can’t help yourself. I know you’re watching. OK?

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“And 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 this stage and defending your record,” he continued. “You’re ducking these things. And let me tell you what’s gonna happen: Nobody up here is gonna call you Donald Trump anymore, we’re gonna call you Donald Duck.”

Oh ho ho. Get it? I see what he did there. Yes, Chris Christie has four children and I’m sure he’s a devoted father, but we didn’t need his dad jokes to un-enliven what was already a banal, platitudinous night.

And here’s the thing: Neither Christie nor DeSantis is right.

Did you watch the Republican debate?

In the first place, according to RealClearPolitics, Trump sits at 56.6 percent in an average of polls, over 42 points ahead of second-place DeSantis. What’s more, he’s the only person who would have been on stage who would have had presidential experience to defend. Republican voters have already seen his record — and, for the moment, they see no better alternative.

Secondly, what Trump missed was, inter alia, a very important, very heated debate between two South Carolinians over … curtains.

The two South Carolinians in the race — Sen. Tim Scott and Nikki Haley, the Palmetto State’s former governor who also served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration — got into an unfriendly exchange over whether Haley had overspent on curtains for the residence of the U.N. ambassador.

“Talk about someone who has never seen a federal dollar she doesn’t like,” Scott said.

“Bring it, Tim!” Haley responded.

“You literally put $50,000 on curtains,” Scott said.

When Haley noted that this was “bad information,” Scott urged people to “just go to YouTube.”

Just to be clear here: If curtains are indeed going to be a deciding factor in how you cast your primary vote, The Hill notes that the purchase of the expensive window treatments in question was made before Haley’s time as U.N. ambassador, during the Obama administration.

(If you want to go to YouTube, feel free. There’s probably a hilarious video of a cat dancing along to Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” going viral, or something like that.)

The fact is, however, Scott vs. Haley on Curtaingate was the defining moment of Wednesday’s debate — not in terms of who spent the 50 grand on the curtains, mind you, but on summing up the whole experience.

Yes, some candidates managed to make salient points during the two-hour event. But if you missed it, let me sum it up for you:

Fentanyl bad. “My record good.” Chinese Communist Party bad. “My record on China good. His record on China bad.” Fentanyl very bad. “My record good.” Bidenomics bad. “My economic record good.” Also, Doug Burgum desperately trying to get the attention of anyone who would listen on energy.

Each of these candidates are, at best, 42 points behind Trump in the RealClearPolitics polling aggregate.

Some of them made good arguments that bear repeating and examination over the days to come, but none of them made a convincing argument that will change the rankings.

Why, then, would Trump show up? To avouch that he’d pay for his own curtains? Or to laugh Chris Christie out of the Reagan Library for that cringe-viral “Donald Duck” line?

Because those were the two best answers the people on stage seemed to provide Wednesday night.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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