In GOP Rematch, 'the Sand Is Going Through the Hourglass'

Time is running out to gain ground on Trump as 2nd Republican presidential debate takes place
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2023 6:50 AM CDT

The way things stood Monday remain how they stand just hours before the Republican presidential debate Wednesday in California, with two notable candidates not expected to take the stage. FOX 26 Houston reports that former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson didn't make the cut, while former President Trump, far and away the GOP frontrunner in polls despite his four recent indictments, is skipping the debate to instead head to Michigan to meet with striking autoworkers. The debate will be moderated by Fox News' Dana Perino and Stuart Varney, as well as Univision's Ilia Calderon, and will be hosted on the Fox Business Network from 9pm to 11pm ET, per the New York Times. It will also air on Fox News and Univision and stream on Fox Nation, Univision, and Rumble. More on what to expect:

  • Catching up with the candidates: The AP runs through how each of the competitors did during the last debate, and where some may now stand with voters. Set to take the stage Wednesday night: former VP Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
  • Ghost of the Gipper: Voice of America places its focus on the debate's venue—the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, where the specter of No. 40 looms large. The location "brings back the views of a former president who still serves as a conservative model to the party," VOA notes.
  • What else to watch for: CNN expands on the Reagan vibe, as well as on what else to expect during the show. For one, the news outlet anticipates "major divides on abortion," after Trump recently opened "what could be the party's most significant policy fissure."

  • Perino's take: The debate's host thinks "it is time for a breakout moment," and predicts that's exactly what the candidates will be vying for. "The debate is not just to showcase these candidates," she tells the Hill. "It's for one of them to say, 'I can be [Trump's] main rival.'" She adds, "You'll see some posturing."
  • Delicate attack: Political analyst Lara Brown agrees with Perino, telling USA Today that she expects Wednesday's debate to be "more contentious and more confrontational" than the first one when it comes to Trump. It's a fine line, though, she says, with candidates having to jockey for position without alienating GOP voters who once supported the former president. She notes some Republicans are worried that "if they hit him too hard or cut too close to the bone," his supporters will "cancel" them from the party.
  • Blunting Trump's 'momentum': The AP notes Republicans' "growing urgency" to present a candidate that might be able to gain ground on the frontrunner. "It'll be interesting to see whether or not folks realize that the sand is going through the hourglass pretty quickly right now," GOP strategist Kevin Madden says.
  • At stake for DeSantis: One candidate under the spotlight in particular is the Florida governor, who's running more than 40 points behind Trump in recent polls. "It's too late for just a fine performance," Republican pollster Christine Matthews tells the AP. "DeSantis has gone from leading alternative to Trump to just one of the pack of challengers, and he will be under pressure to perform."
  • 'Fake' debate: That's how Zack Beauchamp frames Wednesday's event for Vox, writing that it will be "a cosplay of a competitive election—and a distraction from an ugly truth." That truth being that it doesn't look like anyone will be able to catch up with the former president. "At this point, the only things that could stop Trump are his death or incapacitation," Beauchamp notes.
(More GOP debate stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.