Former President Donald Trump skipped the first GOP presidential debate on Tuesday night, opting instead for a pretaped interview with conservative media personality Tucker Carlson that aired shortly before the other contenders for the Republican nomination took to the stage.
The former president used the interview to bash several of his rivals, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is next in the polls after Trump, although his numbers have slipped in recent months.
“DeSanctus is out,” Trump said. “I think he’s gonzo. He was at a level — people have figured him out. He’s gone.”
Polls show Trump is currently the front-runner for the GOP nomination. But Trump also attacked other candidates polling in single digits by name, including former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The interview was an effort at counterprogramming as Fox News hosted the first debate in the Republican primary contest.
Trump also used the interview to criticize President Joe Biden over his age, his policies at the border, and his approach to China, which he said was building military installations in Cuba and across the Western Hemisphere under Biden’s watch.
“China now, think of this, is building military installations in Cuba,” Trump said. “The Cuban population in Miami is not too happy because they’re never going to be able to go back.”