NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Sunday, February 7, 2016, 12:30 AM
A feisty debate between seven of the Republican presidential hopefuls days before New Hampshire’s primary had a rocky start.
Although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie led the GOP pack on stage, he was not responsible for a backstage traffic jam that awkwardly left Ben Carson and Donald Trump waiting for their grand entrances at Saint Anselm College.
The two candidates botched their stage instructions and were absent from their podiums as the moderators announced, “Ladies and Gentleman, the Republican candidates.”
A third podium went unoccupied for a brief moment when the moderators appeared to have forgotten Ohio Gov. John Kasich entirely.
The cause of the evening’s live television flub began when Carson prematurely shuffled his way toward the debate spotlight only to learn the moderators were calling for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz instead.
Carson may have been out of sight from the Manchester audience, but studio cameras captured every moment of Carson’s stage fright. He stood frozen against a blue curtain even as a frantic stage manager encouraged him to join his opponents on stage. He was then joined by Trump, who managed to miss both of his entrance cues.
Republican presidential candidates participate in the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate that started awkwardly because of missed stage cues.
Florida politician Marco Rubio took a detour around the candidate jam and went on stage without a hitch. Jeb Bush also skirted around the confused duo with a raised eyebrow and shrug — a moment replayed on “Saturday Night Live” during its Weekend Update.
Carson’s embarrassing moment finally ended when ABC News moderators Martha Raddatz and David Muir invited him to step out.
“Ben Carson, please come out on the stage, who is standing there as well, Dr. Carson,” Muir said.
Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump missed two stage cues and give a thumbs up to the audience during a commercial break.
That left Kasich and Trump remaining backstage. The billionaire landed second place during the Iowa caucus after skipping last week’s Fox News debate and returned to debate only to miss his second cue to go on stage.
Raddatz called for Trump, but he stood there for an excruciatingly 10 seconds as Kasich peaked around the curtain. He walked to his center podium in an auditorium deafened by applause — after realizing it was finally his turn.
Kasich’s absence was finally noted by Rubio, who asked “Where’s Kasich” and offered to introduce the governor himself.