The first debate of the GOP primary is just hours away. While nine presidential candidates met the donor and polling thresholds to qualify, only eight will take the stage in Milwaukee tonight after frontrunner Donald Trump announced he will not attend.
Tonight will be the first time Americans will see the top 2024 GOP candidates square off against each other with all of them hoping to use the national spotlight to break away from the rest of the pack.
Onstage will be Sen. Tim Scott, Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Former President Trump announced on Truth Social he plans to sit the debates out.
The latest Fox News poll has Trump leading the field at 53% percent. DeSantis is second at 16%, and political newcomer Ramaswamy is third at 11%.
Candidates will be placed on stage according to their standing in the polls with DeSantis and Ramaswamy at center stage. In an unusual move, the 38-year-old political newcomer Ramaswamy held a pre-debate welcome rally Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
“He articulates, he researches, he debates extremely well, he knows the topics and he’s not afraid to speak what everybody’s been thinking for a long time,” one Wisconsin Ramaswamy supporter told CBN News at the rally.
The RNC required all candidates to sign its “Beat Biden Pledge” in order to be on stage stating that they will support the eventual GOP nominee and will not participate in any debate not sanctioned by the group. Trump has not signed the pledge and currently has no plans to participate in future debates.
Without Trump at the debate, candidates will try to stand out as the number one alternative to the frontrunner. Meanwhile, an interview featuring the former president and Tucker Carlson will reportedly be released around the same time as tonight’s debate.