Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie repeatedly accused his fellow GOP presidential hopefuls of ignoring the elephant who was decidedly not in the room during last night’s Republican presidential primary debate.
Christie says Trump is “a dictator and a bully who has taken shots at everybody.who disagrees with him. I understand why these 3 are timid to say anything about him. He just said this past week he wants to use DOJ to go after his enemies. He is unfit to be president.” pic.twitter.com/3zqb01iX01— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) December 7, 2023
Yet despite Christie’s admonition, former President Donald Trump continues to largely escape any pointed criticism from the remaining GOP candidates for president, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis.
Breaking from the trend, however, Haley did briefly surface a complaint about the Trump administration, levelling a powerful criticism that puts Trump squarely — and unusually — in the sights of the conservative Freedom Caucus. The Freedom Caucus, for all its accord with Trump on social issues, remains irate at government spending levels and the ballooning national debt — which did not, it is acknowledged, begin under the Biden administration.
With fiscal irresponsibility and unchecked spending among the Freedom Caucus’s chief concerns, members like Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) continually threaten to shut down the government rather than rubberstamp more continuing resolutions that maintain that status quo.
Before Thanksgiving, raging about the crushing debt, Roy fulminated on the House floor: “We’re pissing it all away. We’re giving it away. All that they fought for, all of those freedoms, we are giving it away. Why? Because we’re too cowardly to stand up and do our job.”
Having ousted former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the post, largely for negotiating an unsatisfactory debt ceiling agreement with the Biden administration, Freedom Caucus members remain on the lookout for Republicans who don’t take the debt as seriously as they do.
At the debate, Haley identified Trump as one of those spendthrift Republicans that Roy and company want to hold to the fire.
Haley: Trump added $9 trillion to the debt in just four years and we're all paying the price for that pic.twitter.com/fYrSrxnn12— Biden-Harris HQ (@BidenHQ) December 7, 2023
Trump, Haley said in a rare critique, is responsible for $9 trillion of the debt that Freedom Caucus members lose so much sleep over — a figure Trump managed to add in just a single four-year term.
“As much as everybody wants to talk about how Donald Trump had a good economy, nine trillion dollars in debt he did just in four years,” Haley asserted. “And we’re all paying the price for that.”