Former President Donald Trump will again skip the second 2024 Republican presidential debate on Wednesday evening, but both Indian American aspirants Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy will be very much there to make their presence felt.
Trump, who skipped the first Republican debate in Milwaukee last month, will not join seven fellow presidential hopefuls on stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Trump hasn’t lost any ground to his competitors by skipping the first debate. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll last week found that he is the preferred candidate of 59% of Republicans nationwide.
The next closest competitor was DeSantis at 13%, followed by Haley and Ramaswamy at 5% each. That’s in line with a recent NBC News poll, which also found Trump with 59% support, followed by DeSantis at 16% and no other competitor with more than 7% support.
To participate on Wednesday, candidates must have 50,000 unique donors (including 200 donors in 20 or more states) and reach 3% in national polls or polls of early primary voting states.
For some of the other candidates, this may be their last chance to appear on the debate stage, as the Republican National Committee announced last week that it’s raising the qualifying standards for the third debate, which will be held on Nov. 8 in Miami.
At the first debate, many of Ramaswamy’s fellow candidates seemed genuinely annoyed by the entrepreneur, focusing their attacks on him despite his lower standing in the polls.
Ahead of the second debate, Ramaswamy’s campaign has defended his previous business ties to China, while the candidate himself has begun posting to TikTok despite calling the app “digital fentanyl.”
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley received kudos from a number of pundits following the first debate and has found herself polling favorably compared to Biden (albeit with lower name recognition) in hypothetical general election surveys.
The former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations under Trump hasn’t gained significant traction in national polling but she has closed the gap for second place in many of the early states, although she remains well behind the frontrunner.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was viewed as the top alternative to Trump but has seen his polling average slip from roughly 30% in early spring to half of that now.
Former Vice President Mike Pence has increased his attacks on his old boss but has remained mired in single-digit polling.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has polled competitively for second place in New Hampshire but his virulent anti-Trump positions have capped his prospects with voters who still hold the 45th president in high esteem.
South Carolina senator Tim Scot— the only Black Republican in the chamber or the presidential field — has supported a 15-week abortion ban and has said he will finish the US-Mexico border wall begun by Trump if elected.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is the most recent candidate to qualify for Wednesday’s festivities. The billionaire injured his leg playing basketball prior to the first debate but still participated.
Former Arkansas Asa Hutchinson governor, who’s positioned himself as a moderate in the race, participated in the first debate but has not qualified for Wednesday’s event.