(DCWatchdog.com) – Eight candidates for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination are battling in the first primary debate Wednesday night – but the catch is that they are wrestling for the second spot in the race while the undisputed frontrunner, Donald Trump, has decided to sit this one out.
“[Trump] leads all polls by double digits and decided it was too risky to debate rivals he views as second-rate on Fox News,” The Washington Times writes in a report.
The first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate is taking place in Milwaukee. It starts at 9 pm EST and will be moderated by Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
The debate will feature former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, US Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, North Dakota’s Governor Doug Burgum, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former US Ambassador to UN and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
“All the candidates on the stage Wednesday night are currently competing for second place. Given the numerous legal uncertainties currently surrounding Trump, everyone else hopes to be the last person standing in the event of an unexpected frontrunner implosion,” commented University of Michigan Director of Debate Aaron Kall.
“Since Trump won’t physically be on the stage, someone else will be declared the winner by the media and political prognosticators at the conclusion of the debate. This should provide some momentum to at least one candidate’s fledgling campaign,” the analyst added.
“[The GOP is] excited to showcase our diverse candidate field and the conservative vision to beat Joe Biden on the debate stage Wednesday night,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Tuesday.
The Times forecasts that with Trump as a no-show, the other GOP presidential candidates will be inclined to target Florida’s Governor DeSantis, who has already slipped to third place, according to some surveys.
“The first debate is their biggest chance yet to grab headlines by attacking the governor, so we know they will try their best. In contrast, Gov. DeSantis’ objective in this debate will be to lay out his vision to beat Joe Biden, reverse American decline and revive the American Dream,” reads a DeSantis campaign memo on the debate obtained by the news outlet.