Candidates Face Last Chance To Qualify for Second GOP Primary Debate

While at least seven Republicans will take to the debate stage Wednesday, President Trump appears to be focusing on the general election.

AP/Morry Gash
Republican presidential candidates at the primary debate hosted by Fox News Channel on August 23, 2023, at Milwaukee. AP/Morry Gash

On Wednesday, Republican presidential candidates will take the stage for the second GOP presidential primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and time is running out for candidates to qualify before the deadline — 9 pm EST on Monday.

On Saturday, Governor Burgum became the latest and seventh candidate to qualify for the debate. He will join Governor DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, Ambassador Nikki Haley, Senator Scott, Vice President Pence, and Governor Christie on the debate stage. President Trump also qualified for the debate but is not expected to attend, choosing instead to spend his time courting striking auto laborers at Detroit.

In order to qualify for the second debate, candidates were required to have 50,000 unique donors and garner at least 3 percent support in two national polls or one national poll and two early state polls.

Candidates were also required to sign a loyalty pledge saying that they will support whoever the party’s eventual nominee is, a step Mr. Trump has refused to take and one that other candidates, like Mr. Christie and Governor Hutchinson, don’t appear to take seriously, given their stated opposition to Mr. Trump.

The second debate comes as Mr. Trump dominates the primary. In FiveThirtyEight’s average of polling for the GOP primary, Mr. Trump currently enjoys 55.1 percent support. Mr. DeSantis is the next most popular candidate, enjoying just 13.3 percent support in the primary. Mr. Ramaswamy is third, enjoying 5.9 percent support.

Mr. Trump, who once frequently posted about his lead in the primary, appears to have moved on and is now focusing on the general election.

In a statement on Truth Social Sunday, Mr. Trump had moved on to gloating about a lead reported in an ABC News and The Washington Post poll, saying the network “covered every aspect of a Poll on Crooked Joe Biden, except for the biggest and most important FACT, that he was losing to a person known as DONALD J. TRUMP by a staggering 10 Points.”

“They spend millions of dollars on these polls, and then, if the result isn’t what they want it to be, refuse to properly report the results,” Mr. Trump said. Contrary to Mr. Trump’s claims, both outlets that sponsored the poll reported on its results extensively Sunday.

President Biden also appears to expect Mr. Trump to be the nominee, telling donors last week that Mr. Trump appears to be “destined” to be the nominee, according to Bloomberg.

While the debate is going on Wednesday, Mr. Trump is expected to host a competing event at Detroit where he may attempt a visit to a United Auto Workers picket line, though the president of the UAW, Shawn Fain, has made it clear that Mr. Trump wouldn’t be welcome.
Without Mr. Trump in attendance, the debates appear to have little lasting effect on candidates’ trajectories in the primary. Only Ms. Haley appears to have seen a bump in her popularity following the first debate, and the effect it had on her support in polls was still small compared to the distance between Mr. Trump and every other candidate in the race.

The New York Sun

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