'Donald Duck': Chris Christie slams Trump for skipping GOP debates

The former president skipped Wednesday's Republican debate for a second time, insisting that he's certain to win the party’s nomination.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
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Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took direct aim at Donald Trump, who was noticeably absent for Wednesday’s second Republican debate, accusing the former president of being afraid to defend his record and “ducking” his party opponents.

“Donald Trump should be here to answer to that, but he’s not,” Christie said in response to a question about the need for “law and order” in parts of the country dealing with rising crime. “Donald, I know you’re watching. ... You’re not here tonight — not because of polls and not because of your indictments — you’re not here because you’re afraid of being on this stage and defending your record.”

“You’re ducking these things,” Christie added. “And let me tell you what’s going to happen. [If] you keep doing that, no one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore, we’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

Christie paused for a moment and showed a slight smirk after the remark before looking down to adjust papers on his lectern as the live audience, assembled at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., responded with a mix of light applause and boos.

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis at the second Republican presidential primary debate on Wednesday night. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Christie wasn’t the only candidate chiding the former president for not showing up for the debate.

Read more from Yahoo News: Ron DeSantis rips Trump as 'missing in action' for skipping the second Republican debate, NBC News

Just minutes before Christie’s snipe, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Trump owed it to voters to show up and participate.

“Donald Trump is missing in action,” DeSantis said. “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.”

Instead of attending Wednesday’s debate, Trump traveled to Michigan to court blue-collar workers in the auto industry at a time when their largest union is on strike. In a speech there, the former president called for a revival of economic nationalism, which helped fuel his win in 2016.

“I side with the autoworkers of America,” Trump said.

Donald Trump
Trump, passing on the GOP presidential debate in Simi Valley, Calif., instead spoke to autoworkers in Clinton Township, Mich. (Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Read more from Yahoo News: Trump skips GOP debate to deliver ‘economic nationalism’ speech at non-union plant

Trump has insisted that he does not need to debate his Republican opponents because he’s certain he will win the party’s nomination.

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll last week found that he is the preferred candidate of 59% of Republicans nationwide. The next closest competitor is DeSantis at 13%, followed by Haley and Ramaswamy at 5% each.