will be eight candidates on stage tonight at the first Republican primary
election debate – but the elephant in the room is who is not there.
Trump, the dominant frontrunner for the 2024 nomination, will not be sparring
with his rivals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
will instead feature in an interview with ex-Fox News star Tucker Carlson on X,
the platform formerly known as Twitter.
interview will air at 20:55 ET (01:55 BST) – five minutes before the debate begins.
former president has cited his “legendary” lead over the rest of the
field – nearly 50 points in some polls – and argued to advisors and rally
crowds that he sees little use in being attacked on stage by low-polling
competitors, particularly the two anti-Trump candidates Chris Christie and Asa
absence is also an escalation of a feud with Fox News. The debate is hosted by
the conservative-leaning cable news channel, and top executives have reportedly
tried for weeks to convince Trump to show up.
By choosing to instead sit down with its former
top-rated anchor, who is in his own contract dispute with Fox, Trump may steal
the thunder – and the ratings – while being miles away from his fellow