Who takes advantage of Donald Trump’s absence and other things to watch in the Republican debate


New York (AP) – Eight Republican candidates will We meet on the discussion platform to First time on Wednesday night In what may be the biggest moment in the 2024 Republican presidential primary so far. The front-runner in the presidential race is former President Donald Trump. You will not participate. He says he’s so advanced he’ll help his opponents by showing up. But his absence also provides them with opportunity.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is second only to Trump in many opinion polls, is betting that a strong performance will cement his position as the strongest alternative to the former president. Despite his many pitfalls. Sees DeSantis team Rising newcomer Vivek Ramaswamythe 38-year-old businessman, as a threat, while South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and former Vice President Mike Pence have all but warmed up to compete.

The debate also features a handful of aggressive Trump critics led by former New Jersey governor Chris Christie The anti-Trump message is a focus of his campaign Despite the continued popularity of the former president within the party. Other, lesser-known candidates, including North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, are largely trying to present themselves to voters across the country to help qualify for the second debate.

Here’s what to watch:

It’s all about Trump

Trump is the central issue in the Republican Party today, which means that he will be the central issue in the debate even if in absentia. Up to this point, most of his rivals have been rallying around the former president, unwilling to raise serious concerns about his growing legal baggage, his lies about the 2020 election, and his divisive leadership style.

He won’t be on the debate stage, but former president and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump will be the elephant in the room at the first-ever GOP presidential primary debate on Wednesday in Milwaukee. (22 Aug)

It might be hard for the candidates to avoid tough questions about Trump’s many flaws Wednesday night, especially with outspoken critics like Christie pressing the issue. DeSantis’ approach is especially important given his struggle to capitalize on Trump’s flaws so far, though DeSantis’ allies put out a memo last week actually encouraging him to defend the former president during the debate.

Few, if any, Republican challengers have successfully navigated Trump’s sensitive politics over the past eight years. They are about to be tested again under the bright lights of presidential politics.

Can DeSantis begin to reverse course?

On paper, DeSantis was Trump’s strongest challenger when he entered the race this spring. It did not live up to its billing. And after a series of missteps and staff cuts, DeSantis couldn’t disappoint the nation on Wednesday night.

His opponents will not make it easy. He may have avoided a direct confrontation with Trump, but DeSantis expects a flurry of attacks from other candidates on the stage. He will need to stand up for himself while showing a grainy picture, which he has struggled with in the past.

DeSantis also risks being overly written if he parrots talking points leaked by his allies last week that called for him to “defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to an attack by Chris Christie,” “attack Ramaswamy in response” and “attack Joe Biden and Trump.” media 3-5 times. Perhaps no one can pull off a more solid performance than DeSantis. But if he makes any glaring mistakes, he may not be able to make it to Iowa.

FILE – Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during the Family Leadership Summit, July 14, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergal, File)

Abortion minefield

For most of the year, many Republican candidates have been doing just that Avoid specific questions about miscarriage and whether they would support a federal law banning the procedure nationwide. And whatever they say or don’t say on Wednesday night could have serious political consequences in the short and long term. There are no easy answers.

Religious conservatives who wield enormous influence in the Republican primaries — and especially in the nation’s first caucuses in Iowa — strongly support a nationwide abortion ban. But the broader segment of the electorate will ultimately decide the outcome of the general elections next fall They overwhelmingly support abortion rights.

Jennifer Converst, D-Iowa, speaks to protesters gathered in the Iowa State Capitol rotunda to protest a new ban on abortion after nearly six weeks of pregnancy introduced by Republican lawmakers in a special session on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. (AP (Photo/Hannah Fingerhut)

Jennifer Converst, D-Iowa, speaks to protesters gathered in the Iowa State Capitol rotunda to protest a new ban on abortion after nearly six weeks of pregnancy introduced by Republican lawmakers in a special session on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. (AP (Photo/Hannah Fingerhut)

Look no further than DeSantis for proof of the subtle dance around abortion. Just four months ago, Governor of Florida A Florida law banning abortions in the six weeks of pregnancy has been signed into law – before most women know they are pregnant. But he largely avoided the issue during his campaign. Scott and Pence stand on the other side. They both said they would sign a National abortion ban if elected. Pence plans to bring the issue to the fore, whether his rivals want it or not. Democrats hope he will.

foreign policy struggle

Stage conservatives agree on most policies. But in the age of Trump, foreign policy has emerged as a serious point of contention.

A growing group of Republicans, including the likes of DeSantis and Ramaswamy, have embraced Trump’s “America First” populism, which advocates reducing America’s footprint in world affairs. Earlier this year, DeSantis described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “a territorial dispute Before they had to back down. Others made similar assessments. The conflicts extend far beyond Ukraine.

Ramaswamy said last week that he hoped to cut expanded aid to Israel by 2028. On the other side of the issue, Pence and Haley have advocated a more aggressive foreign policy against Russia and other geopolitical foes as is typical of the GOP.

Foreign policy rarely influences presidential primaries, but few issues will show the differences between the two candidates’ policies on Wednesday night more than this one.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a campaign stop, Saturday, August 5, 2023, in Vail, Iowa.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergal)

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a campaign stop, Saturday, August 5, 2023, in Vail, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergal)

Christy: A serious wild card

No one on stage has proven to be a more effective debater than Christie. The feisty former New Jersey governor, always comfortable in the spotlight, It almost ended on its own Florida Sen. Marco Rubio campaigns during the 2016 presidential debate with a devastating takedown. Later that year, Christie joined Trump’s team to prepare for the debate ahead of his meeting with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

This makes Christie a dangerous and experienced wildcard relative to the other participants. He has emerged as the most vocal critic of Trump in the 2024 Republican field so far, and is expected to continue attacking the former president even in absentia. But without Trump on stage, it is not clear whether such attacks would resonate. Christie could easily take his anger out on one or more of the Trump apologists on stage, including DeSantis.

In recent days, Christie has benefited from a memo leaked by allies of the Florida governor last week that outlines specific talking points. Christie, who fired Rubio for his over-writing, warned that the Florida governor should be “out of the race” if he repeats talking points.

Can a lower caste candidate withdraw?

For some candidates, this presidential debate could be their last unless they pull off a defining moment. Pence in particular struggled to meet the fundraising minimum to qualify for Wednesday’s event. Hutchinson and Burgum barely hit the 1% polling marks. This gives many candidates ample incentive to generate a viral moment that will be remembered—and replayed on social media and cable TV—over the coming weeks.

Most will have lines specially prepared to do this, although it is not easy to deliver such lines without sounding overly scripted. This will not stop them from trying. The next debate is scheduled for September 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. And Trump has already said he won’t be in on that either. Given the high polling and fundraising rates, it would be surprising to see all eight candidates on stage again.

Eight candidates will take to the stage in the Republican primary debate on Wednesday. Former President Donald Trump said he would skip the debate and indicated he would hold a rival event instead. (22 Aug)

This article originally appeared on apnews.com

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