The recent Republican debate was held without controversial businessman, Donald Trump. His absence was mocked by his Republican rivals, who tried to fill the space vacated by Mr Trump’s boycott by attacking each other on immigration and other issues. Trump decided to withdraw after Fox News refused to drop debate host Megyn Kelly, whom he accused of bias. The debate was held in preparation for the Iowa caucus of Feb 1, where the Republican hopefuls will slug it out among themselves to get the first victory in the party’s primary.
Trump held rally near debate venue
Donald Trump held a rally nearby, in honor of war veterans, that threatened to overshadow the debate itself. Days ahead of the critical test at the Iowa primary, Mr Trump’s absence on the stage in Des Moines was keenly felt by his seven rivals in the race to be Republican presidential nominee. “When you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights,” he said, referring to his row with Fox.
Republican rivals mock Trump’s absence
Texas Senator Ted Cruz addressed it with humour in the opening minutes by throwing mock insults at his rivals. “I’m a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly, and Ben [Carson], you’re a terrible surgeon,” he said. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also poked fun at the hotel tycoon, his chief tormenter in previous debates, by saying how much he missed him.
Effects of Trump’s absence
During the Republican debate, with a few notable exceptions, all the candidates kept their balance and stayed on their talking points. It looks like the unconventional Trump’s absence from the hall made everyone a bit more restrained. The broadcaster released a statement that said Mr Trump offered to appear at the debate if Fox contributed $5m to his charities, but they refused. Data released by Google after the debate suggested that search interest in Donald Trump still far surpassed his other rivals.