Washington Watch: Non-Trump Republican presidential candidates to try for ‘breakout moment’ in this week’s debate

by | Aug 20, 2023 | Stock Market

The first debate in the 2024 Republican presidential primary offers a chance for candidates to try to chip away at former President Donald Trump’s big advantage in their race, even as the frontrunner himself looks poised to skip Wednesday night’s clash. One GOP strategist, Saul Anuzis, said he expects contenders will aim to not alienate the former president’s base and become that voting bloc’s second choice, perhaps by delivering a “one liner or two liner that will be their breakout opportunity.”

“That will be the story, assuming Trump isn’t there. How did they handle Trump, No. 1? And then did any of them have that breakout moment, No. 2?” said Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. Trump has grabbed the spotlight throughout August thanks to his widely followed indictments in Washington, D.C., and Georgia’s Fulton County in election-interference cases tied to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He has denied wrongdoing and argued the charges are politically motivated, as he did with his spring indictments in a hush-money case and a classified-documents case. Many Republican voters have agreed with his take on his legal troubles and rallied around Trump in the past few months, leaving him with 54.7% support in primary polls, according to a RealClearPolitics moving average of surveys as of Friday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a distant second with 14.8% support, followed by entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at 6.9%, former Vice President Mike Pence at 5.4% and former ambassador Nikki Haley at 3.6%, with other candidates polling under 3%. Related: DeSantis cuts a third of his presidential campaign staff as he mounts urgent reset And see: DeSantis is leading Trump in cash on hand, even as the former president dominates in polls Trump’s strong lead has sparked talk that the 2024 Republican primary is already over …

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