Former President Donald Trump managed to steal the limelight even in his absence from the initial Republican primary debate of the 2024 election cycle.
Trump, currently the frontrunner in the race, opted out of the two-hour Milwaukee event on Wednesday. His decision denied his trailing contenders the chance to directly challenge him on stage. Despite this, he maintained a strong presence throughout the debate, primarily due to his ongoing legal troubles and multiple prosecutions.
While Donald Trump avoided the debate stage, his legal issues took centrestage as Fox News hosts, who moderated the event, directed questions towards the multiple charges he’s facing.
The former president’s indictment for an alleged conspiracy to manipulate the 2020 election remained a significant topic of discussion. Scheduled to surrender to authorities shortly after the debate, Donald Trump’s legal battles remained a pressing concern.
The ex-reality TV personality is set to hand himself over to officials in Atlanta on Thursday, facing his fourth indictment this year. The charge pertains to an alleged plot to unlawfully influence the 2020 election outcome, which he lost to Joe Biden.
“I have bigger things to focus on than debating candidates who are polling at one percent on the night before my wrongful arrest,” remarked the 77-year-old Trump in an email to supporters ahead of the debate. He further emphasised the need for party unity against what he labeled as the destructive actions of “Crooked Joe” causing harm to the nation.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the primary rival to Donald Trump, viewed the debate as an opportunity to bolster his declining poll numbers and establish himself as a credible alternative. DeSantis aimed to differentiate himself from Trump, emphasising the need to earn support rather than expecting it to be given.
With more than four months left until the initial nomination votes, the debate showcased candidates striving to catch a wave of momentum.
As lesser-known contenders sought recognition, the event also presented a chance for them to appeal for potential roles in a future Trump administration.