Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, who has made a point to not shy away from calling out Donald Trump, challenged the former president Thursday to “stop hiding behind” his “failed social media site” and participate in the second GOP debate next Wednesday at the Reagan Library in California.
Trump, who did not attend last month’s Fox News debate, made a series of posts critical of the former New Jersey governor on Truth Social late Wednesday, prompting CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer to ask Christie to respond to Trump’s broadsides—including being called a “grifter.”
“He doesn’t like when people stand up to him and call him out on the nonsense that he’s involved in,” Christie said, egging on the perhaps-too-frequent poster to “keep it coming.”
Regarding Trump potentially avoiding next week’s gathering of candidates, Christie was blunt.
“If he had any guts, he would get on the debate stage, and he’s got things to say about me. Stop hiding behind your social media site—your failed social media site, Donald—and start taking me on directly,” he said while looking into the camera. “Show up. Stop being a coward.”
While the Truth Social app, which launched in February 2022, had about 4 million downloads last year, it has had only about half as many so far this year, according to Sensor Tower, an intelligence firm. The site, marketed as a “free speech” alternative to X, formerly known as Twitter, has also taken a hit this year in the average number of visitors per month. As the site’s parent company tries to go public, Trump last month posted on X for the first time since getting kicked off the platform immediately following Jan. 6—a move that inevitably led to questions about Truth Social’s relevance.
For his part, Trump has openly questioned the rationale of participating in debates as the clear frontrunner, telling Tucker Carlson in a softball interview last month that he skipped the first one to avoid being “harassed.”
“Do I sit there for an hour or two hours—whatever it’s going to be—and get harassed by people that shouldn’t even be running for president?’” Trump said. “I’m going to have all these people screaming, shouting questions at me, all of which I love answering, I love doing, but it doesn’t make sense to do them.”