The 2024 hopefuls are meeting for the second time to make their case for why they should be their party’s standard-bearer as former President Donald Trump holds a strong lead over the primary field. The lineup is slightly smaller than the first because former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not meet the criteria set out by the RNC to be eligible to take the stage.
Trump will also not participate in the debate despite meeting both the polling and donor thresholds, and he is scheduled to speak in Michigan as the United Auto Workers strike continues.
The two-hour event will be hosted by Fox Business host Stuart Varney, Fox News host Dana Perino, and Univision anchor Ilia Calderon. The debate will start at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
Check back here for live coverage throughout the night.
OPINION: Congested mess needs fewer candidates
Whether it was Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) attacking Vivek Ramaswamy for ties to China or Nikki Haley falsely attacking Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for banning fracking, there was far too much fire aimed at the candidates on the stage Wednesday night and not nearly enough attention focused on the establishment front-runner, Donald Trump.
No candidate stood out. The format didn’t allow it. There are just too many people onstage.
Trump promises booming economy and seeks UAW endorsement in Michigan
“Do me a favor. Just get your union guys, your leaders to endorse me,” Trump said at one point, though he asked several times. “I’ll take care of the rest.”
Voted off the stage: DeSantis rejects gameshow stunt
Debate moderators sought to end the debate by addressing the inevitable: Who is the strongest contender to challenge former President Donald Trump for the nomination?
However, the Fox News hosts pushed the candidates to do in a strange way, asking each of the presidential hopefuls to write down a name of someone else on the stage indicating who they would “vote off the island.”
“None of you have indicated that you’re dropping out. So which one of you on stage tonight should be voted off the island?” host Dana Perino said. “Please use your marker to write your choice on the notepad in front of you.”
The candidates responded with confusion, indicating they would not follow through with the request.
“With all due respect, I mean, we’re here like we’re happy to debate,” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) said. I think that that’s disrespectful for my fellow candidates.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered to answer the question, noting he would oust the one candidate notably absent from the stage.
“I’d vote Donald Trump off the island right now,” he said. “Every person on this stage is showing the respect for Republican voters to come here. To express their views honestly, candidly, and directly and to take your questions. Honestly, I have respect for every man and woman on this stage.”
OPINION: One lesson Republicans need to learn from Democrats
None of the candidates want to answer the question, but Dana raises a crucial point: If the candidates don’t rally around a final figure to take on Trump, the former president will win the nomination. Period.
This is an issue with which Democrats don’t seem to struggle. Back in the 2020 campaign, for example, Buttigieg and Klobuchar had no qualms with dropping out to endorse Biden when it became clear he had the best chance at beating Trump. Why can’t Republicans do the same?
10:57 PM SEP 27, 2023
Second GOP debate winds down as candidates offer closing statements
The second GOP debate is crawling to a close, with candidates offering their closing statements on stage after a fiery and oftentimes tense meeting of the seven presidential hopefuls.