The First Republican Debate is Tonight
In Trump’s absence, Desantis seen as "punching bag’
Eight Republican presidential contenders will duel in the party's first debate of the 2024 race in the hopes of emerging as a viable alternative to front-runner Donald Trump, who is expected to cast a long shadow over an event he plans to skip.
With a commanding lead in the Republican nomination race to take on Democratic President Joe Biden, Trump said this week he would not attend the debate in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Instead, he sat for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson set to air at the same time, potentially siphoning off debate viewers.
In Trump's absence, candidates are expected to launch a fusillade of attacks on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as competitors try to displace him as Trump's top challenger, according to strategists and aides to rival campaigns. DeSantis is seen as vulnerable after a summer slide in the polls, which have left him languishing more than 30 points behind Trump in the race.
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