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7 Republicans Make Their Case in Second GOP Debate as Trump Offers Counter-Programming


The second Republican presidential primary debate is happening Wednesday night at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. But for the second time, the leading player won't be there. 

The one thing people won't be watching for is former President Donald Trump – at least not in California. The former president will offer up his own counter-programming again. 

His seven GOP opponents will try to separate themselves from the pack and position themselves as the best alternative to Trump, who still leads the race.

slider img 2National polls have Trump the far and away favorite to take the nomination.

"This debate is an opportunity for these candidates to boost their name I.D., boost their donors, and their support in these polls. Trump very much remains the front-runner by a wide margin. So this debate is really important as they prepare also for the next debate, where they will need even more support, four percent of support, and a larger amount of donors," explained Adriana Gomez Licon, Associated Press national politics reporter.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former Trump official Nikki Haley used the first debate to boost their candidacies.

But former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson didn't make the cut for the second debate. The field could thin out even more if the debate doesn't move the needle.

This week, President Joe Biden visited striking auto workers on the picket line in Michigan to make his own case. "You heard me say it many times Wall Street didn't build the country, the middle class built the country, unions built the middle class. So let's keep going!" 

Trump will also take aim at that same crowd. He's planning to address autoworkers in the state instead of being on the debate stage. The visit highlights how important the Midwest is to a White House run. 

Some candidates feel Trump should be on the debate stage making his case to the whole country.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) said, "I think he owes it to all the voters to show up, defend his record, articulate what he would do going forward, what he might do differently."

Political analysts agree it's an uphill climb for any of Trump's opponents to challenge him. ABC News Political Director Rick Klein said, "It is getting harder for the other candidates to break through. Donald Trump, by all accounts, stronger politically than he has ever been inside the Republican Party and, perhaps, nationwide."

The third debate is scheduled for early November in Miami, Florida. 

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