The Republican candidates for the 2024 US presidential elections are holding their third televised debate this Wednesday without Donald Trump, the favorite in the polls, who is ready to once again steal the spotlight from his adversaries.
As he had already done in the two previous debates, the former president chose not to participate in the debate organized in Miami (Florida), a useless exercise, according to him, given his great advantage in the polls.
The billionaire and his rivals will face off in a series of primaries starting January 15. The winner will contest the November elections against the Democratic candidate, probably President Joe Biden.
Despite the four indictments against him, Trump is currently crushing the Republican race, hovering around 58% in the polls. An achievement achieved thanks to the enormous base that remains loyal no matter what happens.
– Eighteen kilometers –
The septuagenarian, a fan of provocations, decided to hold a rally this Wednesday almost at the same time as the Republican debate and just 18 kilometers away.
The chosen place, the city of Hialeah, next to Miami, is a Republican bastion in which more than 95% of the population defines themselves as Latino.
One more nod from Trump to Florida's influential Hispanic community. In June, just after his indictment in a federal court in Miami, he took a mass bath at the Versailles restaurant, an emblematic place of the Cuban community in that city.
In Hialeah, hours before the rally, hundreds of the real estate magnate's followers line up in front of the stadium where he will give his speech.
Excited at the prospect of seeing the man they admire, they wave banners with slogans such as “Trump 2024 – Save America.”
Macy Lafuente, an American of Cuban origin, did not want to miss Trump's visit. "She needs our support more than ever," says this 52-year-old follower. «They want to prosecute him so that he cannot run for office, which seems unfair to me. He has to know that we are with him, that we need him and we support him," she adds.
While the former president ignores his rivals, they, four men and a woman, will try during the debate to resolve a key question: how to exist in the face of a Trump who monopolizes all the media attention with his statements, attacks and judicial problems?
A question that no one has been able to answer so far. Starting with the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, considered for months as a possible successor to Trump, who has been sinking in the polls for some time.
The forty-year-old, famous for his very conservative positions on issues such as abortion, LGBTI rights or immigration, is 45 points behind Trump, according to the poll aggregator RealClearPolitics.
– “Unwavering support for Israel” –
Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, currently in third place, is around 9%.
The 50-year-old woman's views on abortion and diplomacy have attracted attention in previous debates, even though the format, with up to eight candidates on stage, often allowed everyone to speak at the same time.
Now, with three fewer candidates, the debate can be "more constructive," businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, a new emerging figure on the American right, declared in an interview with AFP on Tuesday.
Sen. Tim Scott and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of Donald Trump's few outspoken critics, will complete the lineup Wednesday night.
The Republican Party has decided to organize this debate in collaboration with the very influential Republican Jewish Coalition.
A way to reaffirm their "unwavering support for Israel and the Jewish community," declared the party leader, Ronna McDaniel, after a weekend marked by demonstrations in the United States in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza.