The final lap bell has rung, and it is now less than a year before the 2024 presidential election. One would think that as the candidates enter this last lap, the third Republican debate would be making headlines. But it isn’t. With or without the fanfare tonight, Nov. 8, five GOP candidates are expected to face off at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, FL. Post time is 8 pm ET.
The live streaming will occur on NBC with the network’s top stars – Lester Holt and Kristen Welker – moderating. Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt will round out the questioning panel. Those who passed the Republican Party participation requirements are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Sen. Tim Scott (D-SC) was down to the wire but finally made the cut.
As recently as two days ago, ABC News ran a story that Scott had cleared two of the three hurdles: He had reached the benchmark of 70,000 contributors and was polling at 4% or more in three states. Where he ran into trouble, said the network, was making it to 4% in at least one national poll. CBS News had a different story, saying Scott was shy of the “individual donations needed to qualify for the event …” Unfortunately, the senator from South Carolina gives off a lingering feeling of “nice guys finish last.” Also hanging on by a thread is the man who loves to hate Donald Trump, Chris Christie, who seems to be having trouble reaching that 4% mark in the national polls. No matter the reason, squeaking by is not where a candidate wants to be at this point in the election season.
Republican Debate: An Exercise in Futility?
Once again, Republican front-runner President Donald Trump will not participate in the debate. He’s expected to hold a rally 11 miles away at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah. Unsurprisingly, his campaign openly called for a cessation of debates due to the gap between Trump and all other GOP candidates. It may have a point.
According to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, Trump has gathered another 5% since September, and it appears “50% of Likely Republican primary voters would vote for Trump.” Worse still for the Republican wannabes, the RealClearPolitics average has him at 58.5%. His closest competitor – not exactly nipping at his heels – is DeSantis, with 12%.
Recently, Haley and DeSantis have been sparring over foreign affairs, much as she did with Ramaswamy at the first debate. Haley has proved to be a tough competitor despite her lackluster numbers and could be a vice-presidential front-runner, provided she doesn’t anger the eventual Republican nominee.
So what will the final five discuss in the third Republican debate? Hopefully, something of more substance than the GOP hopefuls have been bickering about lately.
Two of the also-ran campaigns have descended into petty topics. At issue is whether DeSantis wears lifts in his cowboy boots to make him look taller. Following a lengthy article in Politico on the topic, Haley joined the fray by answering an interview question about whether she will wear high heels to the debate just to look taller than the Florida governor.
This is where we are as the third Republican debate gets underway this evening. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has announced a fourth primary debate. It’s set for Tuscaloosa, AL, on Dec. 6. The threshold to garner a spot on the stage will be higher for the few remaining, and GOP front-runner Trump will probably not be there. But as they say in the entertainment business, “The show must go on.”