FLORIDA Gov. Ron DeSantis would have benefited if Donald Trump had attended tonight’s GOP debate, a policy expert said.
DeSantis is Trump’s toughest challengerfor the Republican presidential nomination — but the statewide polls average a whopping 40 points behind.
Polls conducted over the past six months have shown Trump widening his lead as he has been slapped with a slew of indictments.
Some polls even put Trump ahead by almost 50 points.
Trump’s lead has skyrocketed as he faces four charges – the latest related to alleged election interference in 2020. He is expected to capitulate in Georgia tomorrow.
Trump has also been charged with allegations of abusive handling of confidential documents at his plush Mar-A-Lago estate after leaving office and his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
In April, Trump was charged in Manhattan with falsifying business records. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
An average of the polls compiled by the politics website Thirty-five DeSantis puts it at 14.5 percent – way behind Trump.
DeSantis is ahead of his rivals Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
In recent weeks, DeSantis has challenged Trump over his record in office while looking for ways to close the wide gap in the polls.
Earlier this month, he slammed Trump for not getting rid of Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI.
DeSantis told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham: “Well, he had three years to fire Christopher Wray and he didn’t fire him.”
He also claimed that the so-called swamp that Trump promised to drain had gotten worse.
DeSantis told NBC News that Trump “naturally” lost the 2020 election after being questioned.
He said, “Whoever puts their hand on the Bible on January 20th every four years is the winner.” Joe Biden is the President.”
Trump has long been spreading unsubstantiated rumors that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen and rigged.”
Trump, the front runner in the race for the GOP, has stated that he will not be attending tonight’s showdown in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
He posted on Truth Social that his interview with Tucker Carlson will air at 9 p.m. ET — the same time that DeSantis and the other Republican candidates will face off.
Trump teased, “Sparks will fly.”
But political pundit Jacob Neiheisel speculated that Trump’s physical absence from the debate phase could negatively impact DeSantis.
He told The US Sun that DeSantis would have benefited from Trump’s presence.
He said: “He could have confronted him immediately [over his record in office].”
Neiheisel said a candidate who can avoid upsetting Trump’s die-hard supporters but doesn’t have the former president’s baggage might be able to capitalize.
He suggested that DeSantis might need to change his approach to the debate after Trump confirmed he would be skipping the event.
Neiheisel said: “He has to worry on a lot of different fronts. It’s a bit like the fast food wars – you don’t go after the people under you.”
He warned that DeSantis must try to make sure he doesn’t “knock out” candidates who don’t have a high profile.
Eight contestants will take the stage in Milwaukee, with DeSantis and Ramaswamy occupying the central podiums.
Pence, Christie and Asa Hutchinson will flank DeSantis, while Haley, Scott and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will stand on Ramaswamy’s wings.
The candidates vying for the nomination are likely to be questioned on a range of issues, from Trump’s indictments to abortion to the Ukraine war.
Pence told Fox News Digital that he was “looking forward to debating Trump” – before it became apparent the ex-president would skip the showdown.
Trump announced Sunday that he would skip the debate, posting on Truth Social, “The public knows who I am and what a successful presidency I’ve had.”
In the days that followed, he released a selection of GOP state primary polls showing his huge lead.
A poll conducted by the Trafalgar Group found the ex-president has a 39-point lead over DeSantis in New Hampshire.
Trump was 34 points clear in South Carolina and has a 26-point lead over DeSantis in Iowa.
The debate takes place against the background of the impeachment against Trump.
Trump was charged with conspiracy and racketeering and had until August 25 to voluntarily surrender at a Fulton County jail. Trump vehemently denies the allegations.
Attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Ray Smith have already turned themselves in to the police and Rudy Giuliani has left for Georgia.
Giuliani told reporters, “I’m going to Fulton County to obey the law, which I always do. I don’t know if I’ll plead today, but if I do, I’m not pleading guilty.”
Trump posted on Truth Socialthat he will be “proudly arrested” in Georgia tomorrow afternoon.
The police should take his fingerprints and have a mugshot taken.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has proposed a March 4, 2024 trial date for Trump — which would be just months before the Republican National Convention.