Republican debate: The one candidate who REFUSED to back Donald Trump

Republican debate

Republicans took part in a debate last night

Dan Falvey

By Dan Falvey

Published: 24/08/2023

- 07:46

Republican candidates all signed a pledge to support the party's eventual nominee

Just one Republican candidate refused to say they would back Donald Trump if he became the party's nominee after being convicted of election fraud.

Eight presidential hopefuls took part in a televised debate last night in order to help party members pick who they want to be their candidate for the White House.

Having vowed to boycott the debates, the 45th President of the United States was notably absent from the evening. Instead he gave an interview to conservative broadcaster Tucker Carlson before heading to Georgia where he will turn himself in to the Fulton County jail.

Probing the candidates about Trump's legal situation, Fox News debate moderator Brett Baier asked: "You all signed a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee. If former president Trump is convicted in a court of law, would you still support him as your party's choice?"

Republican debate

All candidates bar one raised their hands


He asked for a show of hands from those on stage.

Candidates Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Doug Burgum, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott and Mike Pence were all swift in pledging their support.

Chris Christie, who has been critical of Trump in the past, was far slower to raise his hand but vowed to back the ex-President after his initial hesitation.

Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, was the only candidate on stage who did not raise his hand.


\u200bAsa Hutchinson

Asa Hutchinson said he would not support 'somebody who has been convicted of a serious felony'


He said: "I am not going to support somebody who has been convicted of a serious felony or who has been disqualified under our Constitution and that is consistent with RNC rules and I hope everyone would agree with me."

Explaining his own position, Christie said: "Here is the bottom line.

Someone's got to stop normalising this conduct.

"Whether or not you believe the criminal charges are right or wrong, the conduct is beneath the office of president of the United States."

In his interview with Carlson, Trump hit back at the criticism from his two Republican rivals.

He branded Hutchinson as "nasty" and claimed neither him nor Christie should have been allowed to take part in the Fox News debate.

Trump claimed that the candidates' inclusion was partially responsible for refusing to participate himself.
"I’m going to have all these people screaming at me, shouting questions at me, all of which I love answering, I love doing," he said.

"But it doesn’t make sense to do them so I’m taking a pass."

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