Dwindling GOP field takes the debate stage in Miami Wednesday

Published: Nov. 7, 2023 at 2:24 PM EST

MIAMI, FL (Gray DC) - The stage is set in Miami for the third Republican debate. A dwindling field of Republicans will be under the public microscope in south Florida Wednesday night. Just five candidates will take the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center as the qualification criteria gets harder and candidates lose steam. As with the first two debates the stage will have a large, looming absence with Donald Trump skipping out once again.

“As a whole we’re going to see that Republican up there. We’re going to see those policies that stand in contrast to the Democrats,” said Madison Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

Gilbert expects a deeper policy dive Wednesday night with a smaller group on stage. Issues expected to come up include the wars in Israel and Ukraine, government spending, the economy, and more. Gilbert hopes undecided voters or disillusioned Democrats are tuning in.

“That’s the voters I hope we can really speak to through the debates and continue to speak to in every way possible,” said Gilbert.

Those speaking to the audience include former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and Florida Governor Ron Desantis. But voters tuning in will not be hearing from the most likely GOP nominee.

“I can’t speak to the strategy or the reasoning behind why Trump or any of the candidates do anything that they do,” said Gilbert.

Trump will be counterprogramming with a rally in nearby Hialeah, FL Wednesday night. He has indicated it is not worth debating with such a substantial lead. The former president slammed his opponents at a Florida GOP event over the weekend.

“We lead the primary field by 50 points, with Trump at 61 and Ron ‘DeSanctimonious’ at 11 and ‘Bird brain’ at six,” said Trump.

Trump is not the only one counterprogramming here in Miami. Democrats are also on the scene, fighting for President Joe Biden as Republicans fight each other. The general election is less than a year away.