The field of candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination is narrowing, but five candidates will make their case to voters in the third Republican National Committee debate Wednesday night in Miami.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott will face one another again in a Miami hotel ballroom.
The contenders are fighting to replace former President Trump as the Republican nominee in next year’s election. Trump has refused to attend the debates, which he has called a waste of his time.
The former president will hold a rally Wednesday evening in Hialeah, about 10 miles up the road from where his rivals will meet. The debate will air at 5 p.m. PST on NBC News and will be livestreamed on Rumble.
Trump, with an average of 58.4% support, maintains a double-digit lead in polling over all of his opponents, according to poll aggregator 538. The leading candidate in second place, DeSantis, has fallen to just 13.6% and Haley has inched up to nearly 8% support in recent weeks.
In Iowa, which will host its first-in-the-nation caucuses in mid-January, Trump holds the lead at 45.6%, followed by DeSantis at 17.1% and Haley at 13.9%, according to 538 projections.
DeSantis picked up a key endorsement Monday from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, whom Trump then blasted on social media for her disloyalty. Haley, Scott and Ramaswamy have been crisscrossing the state, hoping to garner more attention ahead of the January caucuses.
To qualify for Wednesday’s debate, candidates had to reach 4% in two separate polls and have at least 70,000 unique donors to their principal fundraising committee. Already, lesser-known governors have failed to win enough support to reach the debate threshold. Former Vice President Mike Pence dropped out of the race last month after failing to gain any traction among Republicans.
Wednesday evening’s debate, which is hosted by NBC in partnership with the Republican Jewish Coalition, is sure to include questions about the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
“We are looking forward to our third debate in Miami, a welcome opportunity for our candidates to showcase our winning conservative agenda to the American people,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement. “Our candidates will reaffirm the Republican Party’s unwavering support of Israel and the Jewish community on the stage Wednesday night.”