MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 23: Republican presidential candidates (L-R), former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy participate in the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum on August 23, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Eight presidential hopefuls squared off in the first Republican debate as former U.S. President Donald Trump, currently facing indictments in four locations, declined to participate in the event. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The second debate among the Republican presidential contenders for 2024 takes place Wednesday night in Southern California, with President Donald Trump again absent from the festivities.
That said, it’s another huge moment for Gov. Ron DeSantis and his presidential candidacy to use the prime-time forum to distinguish himself from the competition.
While DeSantis was considered the top challenger to Trump when he formally entered the presidential sweepstakes in late May, he has slipped considerably behind the former president in recent national and important early state polls.
The Florida governor now tails Trump in the GOP race by 39 and 43 points, respectively, in two national surveys released on Sunday by the Washington Post/ABC News and NBC News. And his trajectory in the all-important state of New Hampshire, the site of the first GOP primary election next year, is going backwards.
DeSantis has slumped into fifth place in the Granite State at 10%, according to a CNN-University of New Hampshire survey released last week. That’s a 13-point drop since the last University of New Hampshire survey in June.
His supporters are hoping he will use part of the debate to attack the former president.
“If you were to talk to the folks on the ground, I think most people are looking for him to start going on the offense against Donald Trump,” says New Hampshire state House Republican leader Jason Osborne, who endorsed DeSantis for president back in May. “They’ve been watching this constant barrage coming from Trump towards Gov. DeSantis over the last several months and they’re ready for him to fight back.”
The deadline for the Republican candidates to qualify for the debate is later on Monday.
As of now, based on various news accounts, there appears to be seven candidates who have qualified and who have said that they will be in attendance at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California: DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said on Saturday that he had also qualified, according to The Bismarck Tribune.
The Republican National Committee will announce the candidates who have qualified on Monday night.
Trump has said he will not attend the debate, according to CNN politics. He says instead he’ll travel to speak to a group of former and current union members as the United Auto Workers strike continues through its second week. That’s according to the Michigan Advance, an affiliate of the States Newsroom.
Wednesday night’s debate will air from 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. Eastern time on the Fox Business Channel. It will be simulcast on the Fox News Channel, and will also air on Univision. It will be livestreamed on the internet on Rumble.
Osborne says that the format should benefit DeSantis.
“This debate is supposed to be focused on economic issues, and I think this is the governor’s opportunity to really stand out in the crowd,” Osborne told the Phoenix on Monday. He really is of all the candidates, he’s the one who gets sh*t done. He’s been able to get sh*t done as governor, and he’ll be able to get sh*t done as president, and I think that’s what ‘s going to be on display.”
The third GOP presidential debate will be held in Miami on November 8, the Republican National Committee announced on Friday. No venue has been announced for the event as of yet.
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