[guest post by Dana]
Tonight is the big night! The second Republican candidate debate. It’s also the second debate where frontrunner Donald Trump will not be making an appearance. The former president will instead be rallying in a swing area of northern Michigan. He is scheduled to give a speech before the debate begins.
Anyway, there will be seven candidates will be vying for *second* place: Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Chris Christie and Doug Burgum. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson failed to make the cut this debate.
It’s ironic that the debate will be held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, given the current MAGA state of the Republican Party, which Reagan would likely view as nearly unrecognizable :
The Reagan-era GOP base was made up of fiscal conservatives who wanted to slash government spending while cutting taxes and barriers to free trade, social conservatives who fought to limit abortion rights, and defense hawks who advocated for foreign intervention and steep military spending.
All three parts of Reagan’s “three-legged stool” are caught in a tug of war — one that kicked off as Trump remade the party in his image. Much of the party now wants to impose steep tariffs to limit global trade, while Trump and others have shown they have no issue with harnessing state power to achieve culture war goals. Recently, Trump himself has taken to criticizing the anti-abortion rights movement on his Truth Social platform while criticizing six-week abortion bans as “terrible.” And the war in Ukraine has deeply divided the party, particularly over how much the U.S. should spend supporting its Ukrainian ally.
Anyway, questions to ponder: Will the fading DeSantis come out fighting like a real contender? Will Nikki Haley continue to break through and push on to the front of the debate pack? Will that walking contradiction Vivek Ramaswamy spout more nonsense and yet still charm voters? Will Mike Pence find his voice, and realize that it’s 2023? And without Trump there, who will Chris Christie go after? And so on…
You can find where to watch the debate here.
To the dismay of many former Republicans, sane voters, and to the shame of our country, I’ll leave you with this dismally accurate observation:
Far from being an electoral liability, the former president is starting to lead — or at the very least tie — Biden in general election polling.
Not only is Trump the top choice of a growing majority of Republican primary voters in national surveys, but Republicans overwhelmingly think he’s the candidate with the best chance of beating Biden next fall. And poll after poll suggests Biden and Trump are essentially tied with just over a year until the general election.