3 key questions for second Republican debate

7 candidates have qualified to appear on stage, but Donald Trump won’t be there

FILE - Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum stand on stage before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by FOX News Channel Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File) (Morry Gash, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

It doesn’t appear as if much has changed since the first debate between Republican presidential candidates took place on Aug. 23.

Former president Donald Trump skipped the first debate and will not participate in the second one that will take place at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and other candidates who are badly trailing him in the polls are trying to use the platform of the debate to present themselves favorable to the American public.

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The debate will take place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. It is expected to last roughly two hours.

Here are three key questions heading into the debate.

What will Trump be doing while this debate is taking place?

Trump’s campaign announced last week that instead of being in California for the debate, he will be in Detroit delivering an address to a pro-union crowd in light of the United Auto Workers current strike against automakers.

A majority of polls show Trump at or near 60% of the vote, way ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is in second among the rest of the candidates but is way behind, polling in the low-to-mid teens.

Is all hope pretty much lost for the other candidates?

It certainly appears that way.

The seven candidates besides Trump to qualify for the debate at the moment seem to have quite an uphill climb, but figure it can’t hurt to get in front of a national audience and continue to make their cases known why they should be polling better.

The candidates who have qualified are:

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
  • Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence
  • South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott
  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

Of those candidates, only DeSantis is polling in double-figures at the moment.

Expect all of them to leash critical attacks of Trump and somehow try to lessen his big lead in the polls.

Are there alternatives for Republican donors/supporters who don’t want Trump?

This is the big question right now for the party as a whole. Many donors fear Trump wouldn’t win the general election against President Joe Biden, especially given all of his legal trouble.

Because of that, donors are sitting on the sidelines biding time, hoping another candidate can emerge either on the debate stage, or from somewhere else, according to an article on CNN.

One intriguing name remains Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who hasn’t entered the race yet. However, high-profile donors have already met with him and are trying to convince him to run.

Political strategists feel a reason why Youngkin hasn’t entered the race is that he wants to use Virginia’s General Assembly election in November as a springboard to a presidential run, according to an article in Vanity Fair.

If Youngkin helps Republicans win the majority in both the state Senate and House of Delegates, that would be a major feather in his cap, according to the article.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.