Audience Jeers Christie For Rejecting Support For Trump

Republican presidential candidates gathered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Wednesday for their first debate — but one prominent figure was notably missing from the stage.

Former President Donald Trump, who has dominated polls thus far in the 2024 GOP primary race, opted to skip the debate in favor of a concurrent interview with former Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson.

Even in absentia, however, Trump soon became a topic of discussion among the eight candidates who participated.

At one point, the candidates were asked whether they would still support Trump if he won the party’s nomination but had been convicted of a crime in any of the active cases against him.

Only two candidates — former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson — declined to raise their hands. Of course, it took some of the remaining six longer than others to make a decision.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy was the first to signal his willingness to support Trump in such a scenario and five others took a few seconds to look around before ultimately slipping their hands in the air.

Despite indicating that he would ultimately support Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence went on to express some hesitancy.

But Christie, who has established an anti-Trump platform as the foundation of his long-shot White House bid, offered the most full-throated denunciation of the front-runner.

“Someone has to stop normalizing this conduct,” he said to boos coming from the audience.

Responding to his detractors, Christie shot back: “Booing is allowed, but it does not change the truth.”

Hutchinson chimed in with his rationale for declining to preemptively express support for Trump if he is found guilty of a crime.

“I’m not going to support somebody who’s been convicted of a serious felony, or who has been disqualified under our Constitution,” he said.

Ramaswamy, who has also vowed that he would pardon Trump if elected president, declared: “Let’s just speak the truth. President Trump, I believe, was the best president of the 21st century. It’s a fact.”

He used the issue as a segue for his insistence that “we have to end the weaponization of justice in this country.”