Republicans face increasing urgency to stop Trump as he enters second presidential debate

Simi Valley, Calf. (AP) – Republicans are meeting for their second presidential debate on Wednesday as their top rivals look to blunt the momentum Donald Trumpwho is so confident Tour through the party’s primary medium That he would not share the stage with him again.

seven GOP candidates Will be at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for an event hosted by Fox Business Network. Trump will be in Michiganattempt to give a prime-time speech Making original But Auto Workers Union are on strike and trying to appeal to rank-and-file union members in a key state for the general elections.

The debate comes at a critical moment in the GOP campaign, with less than four months left before the Iowa caucuses formally begin the presidential nominating process. At present, Trump is maintaining his dominance in this area, while he is facing many weaknesses. four criminal charges This increases the possibility of remaining in prison for decades. His rivals are running out of time to reduce his lead, leaving some eager to take on the former president head-on in front of millions of viewers.

“This is not a nomination that will fall into your lap. You have to go out and defeat other candidates and one of them will be Donald Trump,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist and veteran of Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. “In this debate, it will be interesting to see whether or not people realize that the sand is going through the hourglass very quickly right now.”

Even the former President did not participate in it First debate in Milwaukee last monthWhere the participants mostly avoided attacks on Trump and hugged each other. About 13 million people watched it still.

Nikki Haley, former Governor of South Carolina and United Nations Ambassador, attracted large crowds and new interest Following her first debate performance, in which she attacked entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswami on foreign policy and pointed out that she was the only woman in the field.

Her team raised expectations even higher Wednesday night, telling donors in a recent pitch that they’re “ready to capitalize on the momentum after Nikki leaves the stage.”

“As more voters across America turn out to watch the second debate, this will be a great opportunity to bring in even more supporters,” Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, wrote in an email.

FILE - A woman walks down the street carrying a flag in support of President Donald Trump during a rally in Huntington Beach, California, on January 6, 2021.  A state GOP rule change has opened up the possibility that former President Donald Trump could take over California's entire military.  delegate to the March 5 primary, the biggest prize in the party's nominating contest.  The election takes place on Super Tuesday, when California is one of more than a dozen states that hold primaries and the largest number of delegates up for grabs in any one day.  (AP Photo/Jay C. Hong, File)

The Florida governor is also expecting a big night. Ron DeSantiswho will remain center stage despite the situation Is struggling to emerge as the region’s top Trump alternative, His campaign announced that they also saw a surge in fundraising after the first debate, but a strong performance on Wednesday would be necessary to repeat it.

“It’s too late for a good showing,” said national Republican pollster Christine Matthews. “DeSantis has become one of Trump’s leading challengers and will be under pressure to perform well.”

former vice president mike penceSouth Carolina Sen. tim scott And Ramaswami Similarly looking for breakout moments. Ramaswamy repeatedly made headlines in Milwaukee, but he was criticized by several candidates who tried to highlight his lack of political experience.

The North Dakota governor will also be on stage. Doug Burgum And chris christieFormer Governor of New Jersey, who has made his bid for the White House by criticizing Trump.

Former Governor of Arkansas. asa hutchinson Failed to qualify after first debate. Hutchinson’s campaign says he will also travel to Michigan to hold a press conference criticizing Trump.

Ahead of the debate, many participants were meeting with top supporters, donors and journalists to claim they were best positioned to move forward.

Reed Galen, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, an organization founded by conservatives who oppose Trump, said that although he still believes the former president will ultimately be the Republican nominee in 2024, Wednesday’s debate will help others make his point. Gives a chance to keep.

“There are opportunities down the road because Trump is taking this for granted,” Galen said.

The site is symbolic because Reagan has long been a Republican icon whose words and key moments still shape GOP politics today. But in addition to feuding with leaders over the Reagan Library, Trump has reshaped the party and moved away from traditional GOP policy positions — including a strong foreign policy and opposition to Moscow.

While Reagan is remembered for visiting divided Berlin and calling on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”, Trump has often expressed sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin and recently said, ” I was the apple of his eye.”

pence, In a recent speech conservatives called on To reject Trump’s “siren song of populism.” But Ramaswami attacked Pence in the first debate by declaring “it’s not dawn yet in America” ​​– a reversal of Reagan’s famous 1984 campaign slogan – and said Republicans following Reagan would lead a Trump-dominated party. Were out of step with.

“The sad thing is, the irony – and I don’t know how many people out there will get this – is that Ronald Reagan couldn’t get the Republican nomination today,” said former Republican Governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman, who Now teaming up with Democratic voices to promote the centrist Forward Party. “It’s not far from there.”


Weisert reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa contributed to this report.

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