Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has challenged former President Donald Trump to a debate.
DeSantis proposed the debate with Trump in an interview following the second Republican primary debate, hosted by Fox News, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
“Maybe we can say, since the former President didn’t come here, maybe he’d be willing to do [a debate] with you and I,” DeSantis told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “I think he owes it to our voters to come and make the case.”
Hannity laughed and said he would be interested in hosting a debate with DeSantis and Trump.
“No one’s entitled to anything,” DeSantis said, criticizing Trump’s mention of his lead in polls. “You gotta make the case.”
DeSantis said he would show up everywhere throughout his campaign.
Trump has not responded to DeSantis’ debate offer as of Thursday afternoon.
Wow! Ron DeSantis just publicly challenged Donald Trump to a one-on-one debate. Trump would never accept, of course, because he's old and frail and would never win. But it's still a good strategic move for DeSantis to continue to expose that. pic.twitter.com/kTAyZNNchA
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) September 28, 2023
The former President did not participate in the first or second Republican primary debates. In lieu of last night’s debate, the former President met with United Auto Workers (UAW) union in Detroit, Michigan during their strike.
Trump dominated much of Wednesday evening’s debate as several candidates called out the former President’s absence.
At one point, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie directly addressed Trump, saying he was absent because he was “afraid” of defending his record on stage.
“You’re ducking these things,” Christie said. “You keep doing that, no one up here’s gonna call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re gonna call you Donald Duck.”
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) September 28, 2023
Governor DeSantis similarly called out the former President’s absence, saying Trump was “missing in action.” DeSantis also criticized Trump’s recent reference to Florida’s six-week abortion Heartbeat Bill as a “terrible mistake.”
“He’s had a lot to say about that,” DeSantis said of Florida’s Heartbeat Bill. “He should be here explaining his comments to try to say that pro-life protections are somehow a terrible thing.”
Donald Trump is missing in action tonight.
He should be here explaining his comments saying that pro-life protections are somehow a “terrible thing.”
We’re better off when everybody counts — and we should stand for what we believe in. pic.twitter.com/b5lD6LhKqP
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) September 28, 2023
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and former radio host Larry Elder did not qualify to participate in the second debate.
To participate, candidates were required to receive at least 3% support in two or more national polls, or 3% in one national poll along with two early state polls from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada within 48 hours of the debate.
Seven candidates participated in the debate, including DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.