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What to Know About the Second GOP Debate – And What Trump’s Doing Instead

The second Republican presidential primary debate will be held on Wednesday night. Six candidates will square off on stage in California.


The second Republican presidential primary debate will be held on Wednesday night. Six candidates will square off on stage in California. All six trail the frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, by more than forty points in national polling. Trump has other plans.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina have qualified for the debate stage and plan to attend on Wednesday.
  • A seventh candidate, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, mounted a late mini-surge to qualify and appeared to have met the qualifications on Monday night, but the RNC has not confirmed this as of time of publication.
  • To qualify, candidates had to hit 3% in two national polls or a combination of two early state polls and one national survey. Qualifying contenders also have to have at least 50,000 individual donors.
  • The second GOP primary debate will air on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 9pm ET. The debate will be broadcast by host networks Fox Business and Univision and streamed live on Rumble. Fox News’ Stuart Varney and Dana Perino and Univision’s Ilia Calderón will co-moderate the debate.
  • The debate will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute in Simi Valley, California.
  • Earlier this year, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the committee’s partnership with Rumble was aimed at “getting away from Big Tech.”
  • Trump, the prohibitive frontrunner for the GOP nomination in national polling, plans to skip the debate again. Instead, the former president will travel to Michigan to give a speech before union workers and join the picket line at the United Auto Workers strike.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Daniel Strauss wrote for CNN about the “uncomfortable truth” of the second debate: “Some candidates will start to feel a new level of pressure to drop out.” One possible dropout candidate is former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who qualified for the first debate and hasn’t yet qualified for the second.
  • Along those lines, New York Magazine observed: “None of the candidates who failed to make the cut for the first debate look like prospects to get into the second. One candidate, Miami mayor Francis Suarez, has dropped out. Another, Will Hurd, has categorically refused to [sign] the loyalty pledge. And while another, Perry Johnson, has met the donor requirement, he is all but invisible in the polls.”
  • The New York Times talked to the field about how they prepare for debates. Ramaswamy plans to play “lots of tennis.” Haley and Christie listen to music during debate prep – more specifically Joan Jett and Bruce Springsteen, respectively. Scott plans to pray, spend time with family and hit the gym.



  • Co-moderator Dana Perino told Fox News Digital, “I believe the economy will feature prominently [at the debate], because we know that that is the biggest concern and preoccupation that is worrying Americans.” She added, “In many ways, in my opinion, the economy is the thread that runs through all of these other possible topics.”
  • “Participants in the second Republican presidential primary debate are certain to invoke the GOP icon memorialized at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library when they face off there Wednesday,” wrote John McCormack for the Wall Street Journal. “It is much less likely they all will embrace his ideals and upbeat temperament.” This reluctance is because Trump, McCormack observed, “unlike Reagan—pushed policies skeptical of the value of immigration, trade deals and U.S. military engagement in global conflicts.”
  • National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote about the “new, eye-popping Washington Post survey” showing Trump leading Biden by ten points. “Even if Biden’s advisors and other Democrats hand-wave away this particular survey, the overall thrust of recent polling indicates people are down on Biden and remembering the pre-pandemic Trump economy fondly,” Geraghty noted. “Reportedly, the Biden team is telling other Democrats to stop worrying, and that the issue of abortion and Trump’s own unpopularity will assure their victory in 2024. At this moment, that doesn’t look like a safe bet.”


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© Dominic Moore, 2023