The third Republican debate for primary presidential candidates will feature five participants, a reduction from the eight in the first debate held in August.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, tech and finance entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina met the criteria set by the Republican National Committee to participate.
The debate, scheduled to take place in Miami at 8 p.m. ET, will be broadcast live by NBC. Lester Holt and Kristen Welker of NBC News, along with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt of “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” will moderate the debate.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson didn’t meet the requirements to participate in the debate.
To qualify, candidates were required to poll at a minimum of 4% and have garnered at least 70,000 donors. They also had to commit to supporting the party’s eventual nominee.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who had participated in the previous two debates, dropped out of the race last week.
Former President Donald Trump, the leading candidate in the polls, will skip the debate for the third time. Instead, he will host a competing campaign rally in Florida at the same time. Arkansas Governor and former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders endorsed Trump and will join him at the rally.
The former president stated in August that he would skip all the upcoming Republican primary debates. He cited his significant lead in opinion polls as evidence that he was already well-known and liked by voters.
Haley vs. DeSantis
The debate is expected to feature a confrontation between Haley and DeSantis, both of whom are attempting to position themselves as alternatives to Trump.
An NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, released at the end of October, showed DeSantis and Haley tied with 16% of the preference among likely caucusgoers in Iowa. In August, DeSantis had 19%, and Haley had 6%.
The same poll indicated that Trump had a commanding lead with 43%.
The Iowa presidential caucuses will be held on Jan. 15. Since 1972, the state’s primary vote has been considered a significant test for presidential candidates leading up to the subsequent caucuses and the general elections.
Haley’s rise in the polls has attracted more donors to her campaign. Ahead of the debate, her team released a video attacking DeSantis’s energy industry policies. The Florida governor’s campaign has criticized Haley’s foreign policy views.
DeSantis enters the debate energized by the endorsement from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who broke with the unofficial local tradition of not announcing support for any candidates before the caucuses.