| 30 November 2023, Thursday |

Trump’s absence puts Florida Governor DeSantis at center of Republican debate

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will take the stage in a debate featuring eight Republican presidential contenders in Milwaukee on Wednesday, replacing frontrunner Donald Trump.

After Monday night’s deadline, the Republican National Committee named the eight qualified candidates. Former Vice President Mike Pence, former Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum are also on the list.

Despite his enormous polling advantage, Trump will not participate in the debate, citing a desire not to boost his opponents. Instead, he wants to interview former Fox News personality Tucker Carlson on X, the social media network that was once known as Twitter.

As a result of his stronger poll scores among the surviving contenders, DeSantis receives top billing — and the center seat alongside Ramaswamy.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, Texas pastor and business leader Ryan Binkley, and California talk show presenter Larry Elder are among the contenders who did not make the final cut.

Suarez claimed last week that he had met the polling criteria, but the surveys he submitted did not meet the party’s criteria for quality. Johnson had also claimed to have qualified.

The Miami mayor previously said any candidate who did not qualify for the debate should drop out. His campaign did not immediately respond to questions Monday on his plans.

In order to make the stage, candidates had to raise money from at least 40,000 donors and get 1 percent support in at least three polls. Those numbers will increase for the second debate next month in California, as the party seeks to avoid a repeat of the unwieldy debates of 2015 that were conducted over two separate nights because there were so many candidates.

  • Reuters