Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lashed out at Vivek Ramaswamy as his presidential debate rival tried to defend Donald Trump.
When Christie expressed his belief on Wednesday evening that the country should move on from Trump, he suddenly turned his attention to Ramaswamy.
“Vivek, put your hand down for a moment, will you?” he said, sounding like a disapproving teacher. “I still have time, dude, so just relax.”
After the temporary departure, he returned to the topic of the former president.
“Look, this man has not only divided our party, he has divided families across the country. He has divided friends all over the country.
When Vivek Ramaswamy tried to interrupt Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor stopped him and ordered him to put his hand down and wait for his turn.
“I’ve talked to people and I know everyone else has too who’s been sitting at Thanksgiving dinner or a birthday party and can’t hold a conversation anymore. “If they don’t agree with Donald Trump, he should be off the island and removed from this process,” Christie said.
When it was Ramaswamy’s turn to speak, he started calling Trump “an excellent president.”
He added: “But the America First agenda is not owned by one man. It’s not from Donald Trump. It’s not mine. It belongs to you, the people of this country. And the question is: who is going to unite this country and take the America First agenda to the next level?”
The Harvard and Yale graduate, who previously praised the 45th president, said he respected Trump “because it’s the right thing to do.”
Ramaswamy has remained a staunch supporter of Trump, praising him throughout his campaign and being asked to outline his policy differences because they are so similar.
He characterized himself and the 45th president as “deeply aligned on policy, more than 90 percent of the way” during a segment on Fox News in late August.
The 38-year-old praised Trump during the first Republican presidential debate, calling him “the best president of his lifetime.”
Trump gave Ramaswamy his own version of praise when he visited Glenn Beck’s show on Blaze TV shortly after the debate.
When asked if he would consider the candidate as a running mate, Trump said:Well, I think he’s great. Look, anyone who says I’m the best president of a generation… I have to like that person.
‘He’s a smart guy. He’s a young guy. He has a lot of talent. He is a very, very, very intelligent person,” Trump continued.
He said he thought the presidential candidate had “good energy” and had “really distinguished himself.”
However, he acknowledged that Ramaswamy was becoming “a bit controversial” as more eyes were on him.
Christie continued his sharp criticism of Trump, saying, “This man has not only divided our party, he has divided families across the country.”
During his turn to speak, Ramaswamy maintained his staunch support for the former president, emphasizing that he respected Trump “because it’s the right thing to do.”
Despite the efforts of the other Republican candidates during the debate, Trump remains the clear frontrunner according to the latest polling data
Ramaswamy shook hands with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who remains Trump’s leading opponent – but by a significant margin
Christie was seen chatting with Nikki Haley, who herself took a shot at Ramaswamy when she criticized his decision to start a TikTok account
Trump complimented the young entrepreneur in August, calling him “intelligent” and someone with “a lot of talent”
Christie has maintained a contrary view. During a June interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the former governor said he had been “wrong” about Trump
“I couldn’t make him a better candidate and I couldn’t make him a better president, and he disappointed me,” Christie said.
He called election night 2020 “the breaking point.”
Now the man he twice supported and advised ahead of the 2020 election has become his rival.
Christie took many shots at Trump during Wednesday’s debate and even addressed the former president personally.
“I want to look at that camera right now,” he said. “Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself. I know you’re watching. Okay. And you’re not here tonight, not because of polls and not because of your charges.
“You’re not here tonight because you’re afraid to stand on the podium and defend the record.” You avoid these things. And let me tell you what’s going to happen. You keep doing that. No one here will call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re going to call you Donald Duck.’
The newest national FiveThirtyEight poll shows Ramaswamy ahead of Christie, polling 6.3 percent to Christie’s 2.9 percent. Trump remains in the lead, with a poll of 54 percent.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis trails Trump by a significant margin of 13.8 percent. He has struggled to take on the frontrunner position without alienating a Republican base that adores the former president.
During Wednesday’s debate, DeSantis sharpened his approach. He used his first response to criticize Trump for avoiding confrontation with other candidates and for increasing the national debt during his term.
Republican strategist John Feehery gave DeSantis “the clear win” for his performance in the debate — “outside of Trump for staying away.”