GOP Presidential Longshots Rip Trump After Town Hall — But Bigger Names Stay Silent

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GOP Presidential Longshots Rip Trump After Town Hall — But Bigger Names Stay Silent


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Several 2024 GOP president hopefuls criticized former President Donald Trump after he took the stage at a CNN town hall Wednesday evening, clashing with moderator Kaitlan Collins yet garnering cheers and laughter from the Republican crowd.

Trump took the opportunity to defend himself on areas in which he has been frequently criticized by Democrats and some Republicans, such as his position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as his recent legal troubles. Several Republican primary hopefuls took aim at the former president over his performance, but many of the race’s more prominent contenders — former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — have remained silent, with Haley declining to comment.

“He had a weak performance and he’s locked in the past,” former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “He had a goal, I’m sure, to expand his base, to be able to prove that he can attract independents and the suburban voters — he failed that test.”

Hutchinson, who launched his presidential campaign in late April, said it was a “mistake” that he didn’t move on from talking about Jan. 6 and the 2020 election more quickly, and insisted that GOP voters are ready to move on and focus on the future; spokesperson Rob Burgess forwarded the comments to the Daily Caller News Foundation upon request for further comment.

The former governor slammed Trump for his lack of support for Ukraine in their battle with Russia, and bashed the former president’s handling of the jury’s verdict in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case; Trump mocked Carroll repeatedly during the town hall, and argued his case was unfairly handled.

“I’m troubled by it at a number of levels, I think it’s just wrong the position he’s taking,” said Hutchinson. “We don’t sympathize with Donald Trump and his mocking of the case, but yet we treat it with seriousness as it deserves it to be treated.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is expected to jump in the presidential race, slammed Trump’s town hall performance as “nonsense.” Christie criticized the former president’s stance on the war in Ukraine, and called him “Putin’s puppet,” adding that Trump “failed” to solve the border crisis.

“Fact: He promised to build a big beautiful wall on the border. Fact: He did not deliver & immigrants are pouring over the border. Fact: He said Mexico would pay for it. Fact: We have not gotten one peso yet. He failed us on immigration,” the former governor said in a tweet.

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Conservative radio personality Larry Elder, who announced his candidacy in mid-April, had a different reaction to the former president’s town hall. Elder called Trump’s Town Hall “entertaining,” and bashed the Democrats on several topics that were asked of the former president, like election denying, abortion, the border crisis and inflation.

“[Hillary Clinton] calls 2016 ‘stolen’ and Trump ‘illegitimate.’ [Stacey Abrams] blames her 2018 loss on ‘election interference.’ [Al Gore] says he lost in 2000 because votes were not ‘counted properly.’ Crooked media NEVER EVER calls these losers… ‘ELECTION DENIERS’!” Elder said in a tweet.

Elder also joked about President Joe Biden’s ability to do a similar town hall with several Fox News hosts, like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters or Harris Faulkner.

While conservative businessman and presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy didn’t watch the town hall, as he was delivering a speech in Iowa, he believes that “more debate and more free speech are good for the country,” Tricia McLaughlin, spokesperson for Ramaswamy, told the DCNF.

While DeSantis has yet to react to Trump’s performance, Erin Perinne, communications director for Never Back Down, the political action committee tasked with drafting the governor to run for president, issued the following statement.

“On the same day Ron DeSantis was assailing Joe Biden’s border crisis, Donald Trump was on CNN attacking DeSantis and lying about finishing the border wall,” Perinne stated. “The CNN townhall was, as expected, over an hour of nonsense that proved Trump is stuck in the past. After 76 years, Trump still doesn’t know where he stands on important conservative issues like supporting life and the 2nd amendment. How does that Make America Great Again?”

DeSantis, Pence and Scott did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment, and Haley declined to comment.

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All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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