First Republican Presidential Debate: What you need to know

August 24, 2023 – Tyler, Texas (KETK)

Eight GOP candidates took the stage Wednesday night to ask for your votes, but the thing everyone is talking about is the absence of frontrunner Former President Donald Trump.

On Sunday he announced he wouldn’t be at the debate because he is leading in the polls.

“He’s so far ahead in the polls, and I would personally I would like for him to show up just because I would like to see him mop the floor with everyone else,” said Dan Hanning, Trump supporter.

“If you’re headed by 50, in some cases even 60 points, you don’t need to go and debate someone who’s a half of a percentage point,” said Jason Miller, Senior Advisor for Trump Campaign.

This leaves voters without a full picture tonight of who they are voting for.

“I think that people want to be able to compare candidates, and that’s what a primary is for, is that you’re trying to compare one candidate over another,” said David Stein, Chairman of Smith County Republican Party.

Eight GOP candidates like Ron Desantis, Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence will be taking the stage in Milwaukee but the question is, will Trump be the topic of discussion?

“They need to distinguish themselves against those that are on the stage tonight, so the ones that are really going to be the players and the ones that aren’t,” said Stein.

Stein said there are bigger questions that need answers.

“The big one right now and I’ve seen this all across our state is the border, everybody is concerned about the borders,” said Stein.

Adding East Texas voters need to pay attention to what candidates are saying and how they answer.

“You want to know exactly why this candidate is thinking the way that they’re thinking and what it is they would do if they were the person selected for the job,” said Stein.

Stein said not every GOP will make it to another debate, but this is where the 2024 Republican Presidential Candidate will be found.

“Things change in people you thought were the absolute frontrunner all of a sudden drop-off, and so you just have to stay engaged. It is a marathon. It’s not a sprint,” said Stein.

Before the debate started, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson released an interview with Trump on “X.”

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