Some Republican presidential candidates will again meet for a debate Wednesday, and for the fourth time in a row the party’s leading candidate has other plans for the evening.
Of the other candidates only four remain who qualified to mount the debate stage, as the Republican National Committee tightens requirements in an effort to narrow a once crowded primary field.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will join former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy after meeting the requirements of 6% support in two national polls or 6% in one national poll as well as two polls from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina.
According to DeSantis’s campaign, he’s coming off a recent debate with California Gov. Gavin Newsom energized and ready to present himself as an alternative to Trump, who leads him by more than 40 points.
“We are now eager to go back to the primary and remind Republicans why Ron DeSantis is the only one on stage who can defeat Donald Trump for the nomination and Joe Biden for the White House to ensure those liberal policies are reversed and America’s revival gets kicked off,” DeSantis spokesperson Andrew Romeo told the Herald.
Haley may well have won the last three debates, the results of polls and her own campaign’s claims are any guide. She’s polling behind Trump along with everyone else, but has pulled into second in many of the early primary states, a position she hopes will propel her toward the general election.
“After each debate, our momentum has grown stronger. I’ve surged to second in the polls. I’m the only candidate decisively defeating Joe Biden, I’ve been flooded with support from impressive political leaders and an outstanding grassroots organization, and we’re continuing to rise to the top,” Haley told donors in a campaign email.
Former President Donald Trump will not be at the Moody Music Hall at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa beside other Republican hopefuls, instead choosing to hold a closed-door fundraiser at the same time in Florida.
“Former President Trump should do whatever he wants,” a spokesperson for Ramaswamy told the Herald, before asserting that the Ohio businessman “can and will win both” the debate and the primary.
“Vivek will tell Americans the truth no matter what: good, bad and downright ugly,” she said.
Trump has stated many times he feels no need to debate with candidates so far behind him in polling that he outperforms all of them, combined. According to RealClearPolitics polling averages, Trump leads DeSantis 63% – 13%, with Haley polling at 10%, Ramaswamy at 5% and Christie at 2.5%.
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