Republican Presidential Primary Debate Marks Official Start of the Race to Retake the White House

By Karen Cross, NRL Political Director

The first Republican Presidential Primary debate is scheduled to take place tonight in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The two-hour debate, which begins at 9:00 PM EST will be hosted by Fox News and moderated by Bret Baier and Martha MacCullum.

On the stage, viewers can expect to hear from the following Republican candidates (in alphabetic order); North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, former Vice President Mike Pence, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. All met the requirements to qualify put forth by the Republican National Committee that included minimums in polling and fundraising and a pledge to support the party’s eventual nominee.

Former President Donald Trump, the undisputed frontrunner for the 2024 nomination, met most of the requirements to qualify for the debate but announced that he will not participate, posting on his social media platform. “The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!”

The latest Emerson College poll found Donald Trump leading the Republican field nationally with 56%, followed by Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy, who tied for second place with 10%. Chris Christie and Mike Pence each earned 3%. According to the survey, 62% of Republican Primary voters say they will definitely vote for the candidate they selected versus 38% who say there is a chance they could change their mind and vote for someone else. But, among Republican voters who support Trump for the GOP nomination in 2024, 82% said they will not change their mind.

In Iowa, the state whose caucuses officially kick off the contest for the Republican nomination, Trump continues to lead his rivals but by a much smaller margin. A new NBC News/Des Moines Register poll has Trump at 42%, with DeSantis at 19%, and Scott at 9%. In 2016, Trump came in second in the Iowa Caucuses, finishing behind Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

The next GOP primary debate will be held on September 27th in Simi Valley, California, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and hosted by Fox Business, Rumble, and Univision.

To learn more about the 2024 presidential candidates and where they stand on the right to life, see: 

On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic Party has no plans to hold any primary debates. President Joe Biden is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an attorney and son of the late Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and Marianne Williamson, an author and commentator.

Biden remains heavily favored to win his party’s nomination despite rising concerns about his mental acuity and physical stamina. If re-elected in 2024, Biden would be on track to become the oldest U.S. president ever inaugurated. He is currently 80 years old. The latest Quinnipiac national poll (August 10-14) of registered voters found Biden garnering 72% of the vote versus 13% for Kennedy and 9% for Williamson. A Fox News poll conducted within the same time frame found Biden with 64% of the vote among likely voters, Kennedy with 17%, and Williamson with 9%.

A Center Square Voters’ Voice poll released earlier this month surveyed Biden’s performance against a handful of hypothetical candidates who have not declared (and are unlikely to do so). It found that Biden would have decisive victories over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and Vice President Kamala Harris. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was the only Democrat included in the poll who would beat Biden in a head-to-head matchup for the Democratic nomination. 

Check out this one-page summary of President Biden’s record on life