Like it was briefly in the first Republican presidential primary debate last month, Atlantic City was again a topic for discussion on Wednesday night as the candidates debated one another at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.But also like in the first debate, it wasn’t Gov. Chris Christie talking about the shore resort in his home state.
“I will tell you this: Atlantic City, I’ve made a tremendous amount of money in Atlantic City,” said real estate mogul and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. “I left seven years ago. I’ve gotten credit for my timing and that’s what I’m all about.”
Trump was prompted to talk about his business record in the city after former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina claimed he “ran up mountains of debt” at his casinos and was forced into bankruptcy.
“Atlantic City is a disaster and I did great in Atlantic City,” said Trump. “I knew when to get out. My timing was great and I got a lot of credit for it.”
Trump would go on to blast Fiorina on her record as a businesswoman, citing turmoil at HP during her tenure.
“She can’t run any of my companies,” Trump said. “That I can tell you.”
Shortly thereafter, Christie jumped into the discussion in an attempt to refocus the debate away from Trump and Fiorina’s personal exchange.
“While I’m as entertained as anyone by this personal back-and-forth about the history of Donald and Carly’s career, for the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job, who can’t fund his child’s education, I’ve got to tell you the truth: They could care less about your careers,” Christie said. “They care about theirs.”
Christie continued, batting away an attempt by Fiorina to respond by saying “Carly, listen, you can interrupt everybody else on this stage, you’re not going to interrupt me, OK?”
“The fact is that we don’t want to hear about your careers, back and forth and volleying back and forth about who did well and who did poorly,” Christie said. “You’re both successful people. Congratulations. You know who’s not successful? The middle class in this country who’s getting plowed over by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Let’s start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you.”
Christie also fielded questions Wednesday night pertaining to Planned Parenthood funding, social security and the decision to go to war in Afghanistan following Sept. 11, 2001.
The governor will now wait to see if his performance will translate into a surge in the polls, where he’s been mostly pedestrian over the last few months.
CNBC will host the third Republican date on Oct. 28 at the University of Colorado in Boulder.