Here are the candidates set to be on stage for the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute in Simi Valley, California:
Following a campaign launch in May marked by technical hiccups on Twitter, now referred to as X, DeSantis has staked out a position to the right of Trump on critical social issues like abortion. Despite a well-funded campaign, he has faced challenges in gaining momentum. Additionally, his primary donor has made it clear that further financial support for the Florida governor is contingent on DeSantis embracing a more moderate stance.
45-year-old, DeSantis stands as Trump’s foremost competitor, yet trails the former president by nearly 40 percentage points in opinion polls. Despite making multiple staff changes and revamping his campaign since May, these efforts have yielded minimal improvements for his candidacy. DeSantis’ campaign is strategically concentrated on thwarting Trump’s progress in Iowa, which is slated to host the party’s initial nominating contest in January.
The former vice president, Pence, has diverged from his previous alignment with Trump regarding the January 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol by Trump supporters. At the time, Pence was inside, overseeing Congress’s certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. The 64-year-old Pence asserts that “history will hold Trump accountable” for his involvement in the attack.
Despite being a steadfast conservative, this ex-Indiana governor is making direct appeals to the evangelical Christian community. However, his campaign faces challenges in fundraising, and he finds himself polling in the low single digits.
38-year-old Ramaswamy, a former biotechnology investor and executive, has been advocating for companies to reconsider their environmental, social, and corporate governance initiatives. As a political figure from outside the established system, he’s garnered attention as a potential alternative to Trump, especially after a compelling performance at the inaugural debate in Milwaukee last August. Ramaswamy is an avid supporter of the former president and has stated that, if elected to the White House, he would grant Trump a pardon.
51-year-old, Haley, a former South Carolina governor and Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, underscores her relative youth compared to President Biden, who is 80, and Trump, who is 77. She also highlights her background as the daughter of Indian immigrants.
Within the Republican Party, Haley is known for her steadfast conservative stance and her adeptness in addressing issues of gender and race, distinguishing her from many of her peers. Additionally, she positions herself as a resolute advocate for American interests on the global stage. While opinion polls indicate she garners single-digit support among Republicans, she experienced a slight increase in popularity following an impressive performance in the initial debate held in August.
As the sole Black Republican US senator, Scott may not be widely recognized beyond his native South Carolina. Nevertheless, his upbeat outlook and dedication to uniting his factionally divided party serve as a counterpoint to the more assertive tactics employed by Trump and DeSantis. Supporters of Scott acknowledge that while his optimistic disposition is an asset, it may not be the sole factor in securing victory. Scott garnered 2% support among Republicans, as indicated by a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted from September 8 to 14.
61-year-old Christie initially provided counsel to Trump’s White House campaign but later emerged as a prominent detractor of the former president, particularly in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021, assault. As a former New Jersey governor and federal prosecutor, he escalated his verbal criticisms as Trump encountered an increasing array of criminal charges. According to the most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, Christie garnered 2% support among Republicans.
Currently, in his second consecutive four-year term as the governor of North Dakota, the 67-year-old Burgum previously sold his software business to Microsoft in 2001. Advocating for reduced taxes and decreased regulations, he endeavors to present himself as a conventional conservative, prioritizing economic matters and national security. Despite his tenure, he remains one of the lesser-known candidates and receives minimal support in polling data.