Republican White House hopefuls at Wednesday’s debate briefly tucked away their boxing gloves to revolt against a question from moderator Fox News host Dana Perino.
All seven candidates rebuffed her request for them to use a marker and a small whiteboard placed before them to scribble the name of whom among them on stage “should be voted off the island.”
Ms. Perino said the goal was to create a smaller field and erode former President Donald Trump’s commanding lead.
In near unison, the Republican contenders groaned and grumbled at what they described as a divisive made-for-TV stunt.
“Are you serious?” responded former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
“I’ll decline to do that, with all due respect. We’re here, we’re happy to debate,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “I think that that’s disrespectful to my fellow competitors.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stated: “I’m not doing it.”
Ms. Perino quickly pivoted to a question about how Mr. DeSantis would beat the former president, who made the case that the country needs someone “who can serve two terms” and not lose another national election for congressional Republicans.
Mr. Christie said he would vote Mr. Trump — who again skipped the debate — “off the island and taken out of this process” because “every person on this stage has shown the respect for Republican voters to come here to express their views honestly, candidly and directly.”