US Republican debate: all the best moments you may have missed

Ron DeSantis has been mocked for footage recorded during a break of him getting his nose powdered
Ron DeSantis has been mocked for footage recorded during a break of him getting his nose powdered - Mike Blake/Reuters

Candidates for the Republican presidential nomination went head to head in the second GOP debate on Wednesday night.

At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, the contenders were quizzed on matters from racial equality to the fentanyl crisis

Here are some moments that you may have missed.

Pence sleeping with a teacher

Mike Pence, the former Vice President, induced an awkward silence to fall over the crowd as he made a joke about “sleeping with a teacher for 38 years”.

He made the remark after former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie commented on the marriage of President Joe Biden.

“As president, I will take on the teachers union and win, just like I did in New Jersey. Right now, we have a president who is sleeping with a member of the teachers union,” Mr Christie said on Wednesday night, in reference to first lady Jill Biden, a teacher.

“They have an advocate inside the White House every day as an advocate for them. They need to stop defending the worst teachers and start defending our kids.”

Mr Pence replied: “Chris, you mentioned the president – my wife isn’t a member of the teachers’ union, but I gotta admit I have been sleeping with a teacher for 38 years ... full disclosure.”

Candidates refuse to vote each other off in ‘disrespectful’ debate stunt

The candidates participating on Wednesday refused to name a fellow competitor to  “vote off the island” and leave the race.

It was a small moment of solidarity for a group who spent the evening trading barbs, sometimes getting personal with their critiques of one another.

Dana Perion, a debate manager from Fox News, asked the candidates, who were given notepads and pens: “It’s now obvious that if you all stay in the race, former president Donald Trump wins the nomination. None of you have indicated that you’re dropping out. So which one of you on stage tonight should be voted off the island?”

Mr DeSantis replied: “With all due respect... we’re happy to debate. I think that that’s disrespectful to my fellow competitors.”

“I’m not doing it,” added Chris Christie, former New Jersey Governor, who at first was seen grabbing his pen.

DeSantis mocked for having his nose powdered pre debate

Mr DeSantis has been mocked for footage recorded during a break of him getting his nose powdered.

Vivek: ‘Transgenderism is a mental illness’

Vivek Ramaswamy said that “transgenderism, especially in kids, is a mental health disorder”, as he attacked schools for refusing to tell parents about their children’s gender identity in schools.

“I’m sorry, it is not compassionate to affirm a kid’s confusion,” he said. “That is not compassion. That is cruelty.”

Referring to two voters he says told him they now regret their transition, he added: “The fact that we allowed that to happen in this country is barbaric, so I will ban genital mutilation or chemical castration.”

Later, Mr Ramaswamy added that more than 50 per cent of children with gender dysphoria have considered suicide.

He added: “And yet politicians reject a law that would require schools to inform parents if their kids change their gender identity at school.”

Tim Scott: ‘Capitalism is the solution to racial equality’

Tim Scott, the only black candidate on stage, said opportunity is the best solution to ending racial equality, attacking the Democratic administration of Lyndon B Johnson.

Tim Scott attacked the Democratic administration of Lyndon B Johnson during the debate
Tim Scott attacked the Democratic administration of Lyndon B Johnson during the debate - Robyn Beck/AFP

“Black families survived slavery,” he says. “We survived poll taxes and literacy tests. We survived discrimination being woven into the laws of our country. What was hard to survive was Johnson’s Great Society where they [...] decided to take the black father out of the household to get a check in the mail.

“If you want to restore hope, you’ve got to restore the family, restore capitalism, and put Americans back at work together as one American family,” he added.

Pence calls for speedy death penalty for mass shooters

Mike Pence said that mass shooters should be given a “speedy” death penalty.

“As the grandfather of three beautiful little girls, I am sick and tired of these mass shootings happening in the United States of America,” he said.

He vowed that if he won the election he would ask congress for a federal expedited penalty for perpetrators of mass shootings, so that “they will meet their fate in months, not years”.

Mike Pence, the former Vice President
Mike Pence, the former Vice President, said he was 'sick and tired' of mass shootings in America - Robyn Beck/AFP

“It is unconscionable that the Parkland shooter is actually going to spend the rest of his life behind bars in Florida,” he said.

“That’s not justice. We have to mete out justice and send a message to these would-be-killers that you are not going to live out your days behind bars.”

The biggest thing you missed? Former president Donald Trump

Dominant Donald Trump was noticeably absent from Wednesday’s debate, working to upstage his rivals with a coinciding event in Michigan.

He took to the stage at an automotive manufacturing plant in Clinton Township, outside of Detroit, in a carefully planned attempt to appeal to blue collar workers in the crucial state.

He told his followers that they should encourage their union bosses to endorse him and warned that the Democrats’ push for green energy will destroy jobs for people making petrol engine vehicles.

Over on his platform Truth Social, Mr Trump hit back at Chris Christie for spending much of the night criticising him.

“Chris Christie is talking about the job he did as Governor,” he wrote. “He had a 9 per cent approval rating. N.J. wanted to throw the ‘bum’ out.

“Also, I built almost 500 miles of Wall (not 50, Sloppy Chris!), got Mexico to give us 28,000 soldiers (free of charge!), and had the safest and best Border in US History, with record low drugs coming in!”

Back in Detroit, Donald Trump spoke for about 75 minutes before leaving the stage to cheers.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been preparing my entire life for this battle. We did such a great job four years ago. We were unfairly interrupted,” he said.

Donald Trump? More like Donald Duck, says Chris Christie

Chris Christie launched one of the most vicious attacks against Mr Trump on the night.

Turning his focus on the former president, he said: “I want to look at a camera right now, and tell you, Donald. I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself. I know you’re watching.”

Chris Christie renamed Donald Trump as 'Donald Duck' on Wednesday night after the former president 'ducked out' of the debate'
Chris Christie renamed Donald Trump as 'Donald Duck' on Wednesday night after the former president 'ducked out' of the debate' - Mike Blake/Reuters

Mr Christie went on to say that Mr Trump was “ducking” out of the debate because of his indictments and fear of being on the stage and defending his record.

He added: “And let me tell you what’s going to happen if you keep doing that. No one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re gonna call you Donald Duck.”