The final Republican Party primary debate before the caucuses in Iowa, which was set to be moderated by CNN, may not actually happen, as the only candidate to commit to the event is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has not provided any sort of commitment or indication that she will be attending the event. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy will likely not even qualify for the debate. Ouch.
According to Newsmax:
The debate is scheduled for Jan. 10, five days before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15, and with former President Donald Trump holding a clear lead in polls over the rest of the field, the debate would be the last opportunity for the remainder of the field to make an impression before the caucuses open, reported Axios.
DeSantis is predicting he will win the Iowa caucuses, but Haley has not committed to facing him in a one-on-one debate in Iowa. However, she’s calling on Trump to break his debate boycott, which will not likely happen in Iowa, particularly with CNN moderating the event.
“There’s a CNN debate? Had no idea,” Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung told Axios.
Haley, who was interviewed on Sioux City, Iowa NBC affiliate KTIV last Friday, commented that Trump is “going to have to get on a debate stage here in Iowa because you’re fighting for Iowans’ votes. I think he’s got to sit there and do the groundwork.”
She then made the case that a candidate “can’t have an election and not appear on a debate stage in front of the people who are going to be voting for you.”
The thing is, not attending debates has not harmed Trump’s polling numbers at all. He continues to enjoy a massive lead over his competition in the GOP, with none of the other candidates even remotely close to catching up to him. If this is accurate and it continues, Trump is a shoe-in for the nomination.
Bryan Griffin, a spokesperson for DeSantis, spoke with Axios and burned Haley’s biscuits, saying “it is no wonder why Haley has failed to confirm she will join Ron DeSantis on the debate stage in Iowa and New Hampshire next month,” after the performance she gave at the last debate.
Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman representing Haley, stated that she would indeed by participating in the event in Iowa, however, she still did not offer a commitment to the one being hosted by CNN.
“Since the RNC pulled out of the debates, many new offers have come in,” she went on to say. “We look forward to debating in Iowa and continuing to show voters why Nikki is the best candidate to retire Joe Biden and save our country. That debate should include Donald Trump.”
The planned Jan. 10 debate will be the first one not being sponsored by the Republican National Committee, which last week said it would not be sponsoring more presidential debates in the 2024 election cycle and that it would allow GOP candidates to appear in other forums.
But like the RNC, CNN has set qualification standards, including that a candidate must poll with at least 10% or higher in three national or Iowa polls, and that one of those polls must be from Iowa.
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