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

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  vic-eldred  •  11 months ago  •  42 comments

By:   STEVE PEOPLES, AP National Political Writer • 6h

Who takes advantage of Donald Trump's absence and other things to watch in the Republican debate
Perhaps no one has more to gain with a strong performance than DeSantis. But if he has any glaring missteps, he may not make it to Iowa.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


N EW YORK (AP) — Eight  Republican candidates  will  meet on the debate stage  for the  first time Wednesday night  in what may be the biggest moment in the GOP's young 2024 presidential primary so far. The overwhelming front-runner in the contest, former President Donald Trump,  won't participate . He says he's so far ahead that he'd be helping his opponents by showing up. But his absence also offers them opportunity.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a distant second to Trump in many polls, is betting that a strong showing will cement his status as the strongest alternative to the former president  despite his many stumbles . DeSantis' team sees  rising newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy , a 38-year-old entrepreneur, as a threat, while South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence have positioned themselves to compete.

The debate also features a handful of aggressive Trump critics led by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose  anti-Trump message is the centerpiece of his campaign  despite the former president's continued popularity in the party. Other lesser-known candidates including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson are largely trying to introduce themselves to voters across the country to help qualify for the second debate.


Here's what to watch:

ALL ABOUT TRUMP

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

It may be more difficult for the candidates to avoid tough questions about Trump's many shortcomings on Wednesday night, especially with outspoken critics like Christie pressing the issue. DeSantis' approach is particularly significant given his struggle to take advantage of Trump's shortcomings so far, although DeSantis' allies put out a memo last week actually encouraging him to defend the former president during the debate.

Few Republican rivals, if any, have successfully navigated the delicate politics of Trump over the last eight years. They're about to be tested again under the brightest lights in presidential politics.

CAN DESANTIS BEGIN TO REVERSE HIS SLIDE?

On paper, DeSantis was Trump's strongest competitor when he entered the race this spring. He hasn't lived up to the billing. And after a series of stumbles and staffing cuts, DeSantis cannot afford to underwhelm with the nation watching on Wednesday night.

His opponents won't make it easy. He may have avoided a direct confrontation with Trump, but DeSantis is expecting an onslaught of attacks from the other candidates on stage. He'll need to defend himself while projecting a likeable image, which is something he's struggled with in the past.

DeSantis also risks being too scripted if he parrots the talking points leaked by allies last week that called for him to “defend Donald Trump in absentia in response to a Chris Christie attack,” “hammer Ramaswamy in a response" and “attack Joe Biden and the media 3-5 times.” Perhaps no one has more to gain with a strong performance than DeSantis. But if he has any glaring missteps, he may not make it to Iowa.


ABORTION MINEFIELD

For much of the year, many Republican candidates have  sidestepped specific questions about abortion  and whether they would support a federal law outlawing the procedure nationwide. Whatever they say or don't say Wednesday night could have serious short- and long-term political consequences. And there are no easy answers.

Religious conservatives who wield tremendous influence in GOP primary elections — especially in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses — strongly support a nationwide abortion ban. But the broader swath of voters who will ultimately decide the general election next fall  overwhelmingly support abortion rights .


Look no further than DeSantis for evidence of the delicate dance on abortion. Just four months ago, the Florida governor  signed into Florida law a ban on abortions at six weeks of pregnancy  — before most women know they're pregnant. But he has largely avoided the issue on the campaign trail. Scott and Pence stand on the other side. Both have said they would sign a  national abortion ban if elected . And Pence is planning to press the issue on the debate stage whether his rivals want him to or not. Democrats hope he does.

FOREIGN POLICY CONFLICT

The conservatives on stage 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 that calls for a reduced U.S. footprint in global affairs. DeSantis earlier in the year described Russia's invasion of Ukraine as “  a territorial dispute  " before being forced to backtrack. Others have offered similar assessments. And the conflicts extend well beyond Ukraine.


Ramaswamy last week said he hoped to reduce expanded aid to Israel by 2028. On the other side of the issue, Pence and Haley have called for a more muscular foreign policy against Russia and other geopolitical foes as is the GOP tradition.

Foreign policy rarely sways presidential primaries, but few issues will demonstrate the differences between the candidates' policies on Wednesday night more than this one.

CHRISTIE: A DANGEROUS WILDCARD

No one on stage has proven to be a more effective debater than Christie. The pugnacious former New Jersey governor, always comfortable in the spotlight,  almost single-handedly ended  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign during a 2016 presidential debate with a devastating takedown. Later that year, Christie joined Trump's debate prep team ahead of his meeting with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

That makes Christie a dangerous and experienced wildcard for the other participants. He has emerged as the most vocal Trump critic in the 2024 Republican field so far, and he is expected to continue to pound on the former president even in absentia. But without Trump on stage, it's unclear if such attacks will resonate. Christie could easily shift his ire to one or more of Trump's apologists on stage, including DeSantis.


In recent days, Christie has seized on the memo that the Florida governor's allies leaked last week outlining specific debate talking points. Christie, who took down Rubio for being overly scripted, warned that the Florida governor should “get the hell out of the race” if he repeats the talking points.

CAN A LOWER-TIER CANDIDATE BREAK OUT?

For some candidates, this presidential debate could be their last unless they can score a breakout moment. Pence in particular struggled to meet the fundraising thresholds to qualify for Wednesday's event. Hutchinson and Burgum barely met the 1% polling marks. That gives several candidates a big 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 prepared lines designed to do just that, although it's not easy to deliver such lines without sounding overly scripted. That won't stop them from trying. The next debate is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Trump has already said he would not participate in that one either. And given rising polling and fundraising thresholds, it would be a surprise to see all eight candidates on stage again.


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Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Vic Eldred    11 months ago

Tonight is the night!

Will somebody say something that resonates with party members?   Something that ignites a campaign?

Chris Wallace is no longer with Fox News, so there won't be any interrupting candidates, nor do we want to hear the word "abortion."

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2  seeder  Vic Eldred    11 months ago

"With former President  Donald Trump  out of the picture, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy will be center stage for the first Republican primary debate"

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At GOP debate, Ramaswamy joins DeSantis center stage, and more campaign trail takeaways - ABC News

All eyes will be on Milwaukee tonight.

Wisconsin was the tipping point in the 2020 election. The place where Joe Biden miraculously won exactly what he needed. Red suburban counties had actually moved left.

Tonight, the GOP holds its first primary at the scene of the ......

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
2.1  Hallux  replied to  Vic Eldred @2    11 months ago
Tonight, the GOP holds its first primary at the scene of the ...

At the scene of the what? Out with it Vic!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
3  Buzz of the Orient    11 months ago

If I were an American and entitled to vote, in a hypothetical contest between DeSantis and Mickey Mouse, I would cast my ballot for Mickey.  Now that I think about it, there actually are examples in America of dogs or other animals being elected mayors of towns, so maybe DeSantis DOES have a chance.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
3.1  Ronin2  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3    11 months ago

Democrats/leftists put a vegetable in the highest office. So anything is possible.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
3.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ronin2 @3.1    11 months ago

LOL.   And what vegetable would you say?  He BEET Trump, is he CORNy?  Does he artiCHOKE over his own words?  Will he LETTUCE afford to ROMAINE in our homes?    

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
4  Ronin2    11 months ago
The debate also features a handful of aggressive Trump critics led by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose  anti-Trump message is the centerpiece of his campaign  despite the former president's continued popularity in the party.

The second Christie mentions Trump they should cut his feed (literally and figuratively). He adds absolutely nothing the field. I am sure the vast majority of his 1% polling; and individual donations are from Democrats. 

All he is there to do is damage Republicans/Conservatives in general.

Let him take his never Trump act to the View, MSNBC, CNN, and all of the other leftist media outlets. Maybe one of them will take pity on him and give him a job.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
4.1  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Ronin2 @4    11 months ago

Sources?  Christie may not be doing great but he’s not at 1%.  Yesterday he was at 3.3% and in NH he was ahead of DeSantis.  You’re such a Trump sycophant that you are now quoted as saying if you mention his name negatively you should be silenced.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
4.1.1  Ronin2  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1    11 months ago

First of all it only takes 1% to make the cut which is what I referenced. But wow, a whole fucking 3.3%? He stands no damn chance of winning the nomination. All he is there to do is attack Trump; and damage the Republican/Conservatives as much as possible.

Prove that it is not Democrats supporting his fat ass. New Hampshire alone has enough Democrats to put Christie over DeSantis in that state. We all know how Democrats would never try to influence a Republican primary./S

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/1st-republican-presidential-primary-debate/story?id=102423047#:~:text=Also%2C%20they%20must%20have%20a,in%20non%2DRNC%20sanctioned%20debates .

To qualify in Milwaukee, candidates needed to earn at least 1% in three high-quality national polls or a mix of national and early-state polls between July 1 and Monday. Also, they must have a minimum of 40,000 donors, with at least 200 donors in 20 or more states. Additionally, candidates must also sign the pledge to support the eventual party nominee and not participate in non-RNC sanctioned debates.

The threshold to get on the stage is so damn low it isn't even funny.

You’re such a Trump sycophant that you are now quoted as saying if you mention his name negatively you should be silenced.

Guess you haven't been listening to Christie. His only damn platform is Trump. Give him any question and he will deflect to Trump. We already have Democrats; we don't need Christie. Think he will honor the agreement he signed if Trump is the nominee? 

As for me being a Trump sycophant. Try the fuck again. I want Trump to go away. I have stated so repeatedly. I also want Brandon, Mayorkas, Wrey, Garland, Weiss, and the rest of this Democrat administration gone as well. If that means Trump being President so be it. Time Democrats learned that the laws apply to them as well. No more free passes just because they have the all mighty D behind their name. I am going with the lesser of two evils. Feel proud the party you support is more evil than Trump.

Love how leftists support a party that rigged their won primaries the last two presidential election cycles- awarding Hillary and Brandon the nominations. Yet think they should be able to dictate how Republicans run theirs.

 

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
4.1.2  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Ronin2 @4.1.1    11 months ago

I want Trump to go away.

Just if you say anything bad about him you should have your mic cut.  Nice try.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.3  Texan1211  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.2    11 months ago

dang. that would be nice if Trump comments here could be auto-deleted when he isn't the topic.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
4.1.4  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.3    11 months ago

Trump wants to be the topic of every conversation.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Participates
4.1.5  Greg Jones  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.4    11 months ago

That's true.... it's all about him and his bloated, insecure ego. 

He doesn't really care about the Republican party or the American people.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
4.1.6  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Greg Jones @4.1.5    11 months ago

He cares about one thing only at this point - not going to prison.  He will ruin the entire country to achieve it.  He’s a psychopath.  More Republicans need to come out and state that publicly if they want to salvage what’s left of their party.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.7  Texan1211  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.4    11 months ago

Trump does, and folks like you feed his inflated ego at every opportunity.

Why????

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
4.1.8  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.7    11 months ago

I feed his Trump’s ego?  Hilarious.  If my disdain for Trump is fueling his ego, that’s clearly a Trump problem, not a me problem.  For Trump any coverage is good to him, regardless of how bad it is in reality.  He is a psychopath and nobody should consider his manipulative psychopathic tendencies as a reason to not call him out on every disgusting action he engages in.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4.1.9  JohnRussell  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.8    11 months ago

Trump supporters are trapped like rats on a sinking ship. 

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
4.1.10  Hallux  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.3    11 months ago
dang. that would be nice if Trump comments here could be auto-deleted when he isn't the topic.

Blame your own side for that, as of now there have been 55 mentions of Trump, 21 within the article, 3 by 'democrats' and 31 by 'neo-republicans'.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.11  Texan1211  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.8    11 months ago
I feed his Trump’s ego?  Hilarious

Yes, it is true.

Did you not JUST write this:

Trump wants to be the topic of every conversation.

People like you constantly talk about him on these forums no matter the topic.

YES, people like you feed into his ego, since you are hell-bent on making him the topic!

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
4.1.12  Hallux  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.11    11 months ago

When did Donald become one of NT's famous silent readers? 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.13  Texan1211  replied to  Hallux @4.1.12    11 months ago

If you can't see it, try reading the comments.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
4.1.14  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.13    11 months ago

You are unbelievable.  By your logic (losing that term loosely) if Trump wants to be what everyone is talking about, for good or for bad, then the only way to demonstrably not fuel his ego is to never talk about what he does.  What a giant fail on your part.  You unconsciously play the part of a Trump sycophant.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.15  Texan1211  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.14    11 months ago

I'm sorry you don't get it.

Don't sweat it.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
4.1.16  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.15    11 months ago

Because it defies any sense of logic, which is why you aren’t defending your moronic comment in any other way than that.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.17  Texan1211  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.16    11 months ago
Because it defies any sense of logic, which is why you aren’t defending your moronic comment in any other way than that.

My comment doesn't need defending.

Why the hell would it?

Either you get or you don't, and quite obviously you don't.

Not to worry, it's no big deal Let it go!

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Senior Expert
4.1.18  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.16    11 months ago

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Guide
4.1.19  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.17    11 months ago

Aww, it’s so sad when someone falls into the cult of Trump and doesn’t even know it.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Senior Expert
4.1.20  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.19    11 months ago

Did you feed your head like the dormouse said?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1.21  TᵢG  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.3    11 months ago
dang. that would be nice if Trump comments here could be auto-deleted when he isn't the topic.

Not so sure Ronin@4.1.1 would agree with you at the moment.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1.22  TᵢG  replied to  Greg Jones @4.1.5    11 months ago
He [Trump] doesn't really care about the Republican party or the American people.

thumbs-up-man-suit.jpeg?auto=webp

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.23  Texan1211  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.19    11 months ago
Aww, it’s so sad when someone falls into the cult of Trump and doesn’t even know it.

Yeah, those so obsessed with Trump to the point of making him a topic when he isn't are to be pitied.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.24  Texan1211  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.21    11 months ago
Not so sure Ronin@4.1.1 would agree with you at the moment.

ask him!

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
4.1.25  Ronin2  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4.1.2    11 months ago

Christie isn't running for President. He is running for a job on MSNBC or CNN. He adds nothing to the Republican field- other than being a Democrat shill.

The debate proved it. 

:Lard ass did nothing but attack Trump and the other Republicans. He didn't provide one thing he would do to improve voter's lives.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
4.1.26  Ronin2  replied to  TᵢG @4.1.22    11 months ago

You think Brandon does?

Ask the people of East Palestine and Maui. Ask his political opponents who he threatened to use military force on twice; and parents that have the temerity to care about what their children are taught in school.

"The great uniter" what a crock of shit.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1.27  TᵢG  replied to  Ronin2 @4.1.26    11 months ago

At least you tacitly admit that Trump does indeed not care about anyone other than himself.   That is some progress.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4.1.28  TᵢG  replied to  Ronin2 @4.1.25    11 months ago

If Christie somehow could remove Trump from blocking the nomination so that the other candidates have a shot at the nomination, would that be a good or bad thing in your view of reality?

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Participates
5  Greg Jones    11 months ago

Trump should be ignored. Especially by DeSantis. The only goal for any of these candidates should be to whip Biden, or whoever the Dems end up with. Trump can't win another national election....I can only hope enough Republicans wise up to that reality when the going gets serious.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1  TᵢG  replied to  Greg Jones @5    11 months ago

Trump is blocking the GOP nomination.   Unless he is displaced, all of these candidates are wasting their time and money.

Trump is, as usual, draining and sickening the GOP like a parasite.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Expert
6  Nerm_L    11 months ago

Let's see who avoids the booby trap of attacking Trump.  No doubt the unbiased press moderator will try to make Trump the topic of discussion.  But the appropriate answer from all the candidates should be they're running against Biden and not against Trump.  Discussing Trump only opens the door for attacking establishment Republicans.

Republicans attacking Trump might sink a campaign pretty quickly.  Attacking Trump means the candidate is an establishment Republican that doesn't deserve the nomination.  The onus for the other candidates is to demonstrate they would be a better choice to defeat Biden.  If they don't want to attack the Republican Party then they better laser focus attention on Biden while ignoring Trump.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1  devangelical  replied to  Nerm_L @6    11 months ago
unbiased press moderator

there won't be one inside the arena...

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Participates
6.1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  devangelical @6.1    11 months ago

Bret's better than all the liars on MSNBC, CNN, and the networks.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Senior Expert
6.1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  devangelical @6.1    11 months ago

[Deleted]

 
 

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