The Road to the White House
Republican presidential hopefuls will debate for the second time in the process towards the 2024 election AFP

Without the presence of his front-runner as in the first debate, the Republican primary candidates in the race for the 2024 White House are preparing to face off for a second time over ideas and proposals in front of an increasingly polarized electorate.

This time, the debate will take place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and will be televised by the FOX and UNIVISION networks. Ilia Calderón will be the first Afro-Latina journalist moderating a Republican presidential debate.

No Latino candidate is participating this time because Miami Mayor Francis Suarez withdrew his candidacy because he did not meet the party's minimum requirements in terms of polling and the number of donors nationwide.

In previous presidential elections, two Latino senators, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), were featured in the Republican debates. This time, members of other ethnic minorities will be present: The Indian Americans, Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley, plus the Afro-American, Tim Scott.

The absence of Trump creates expectations around the figures of Ron DeSantis, who is second in the polls but at a considerable distance from the former president, and the revelation of the first debate, millionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, who showed great dialectical skills and is emerging as a political leader to be reckoned with.

Trump, who is advancing in voting intentions against his own party's competitors, despite his legal issues, has expressed that he can neither wear himself out nor neglect his campaign activities, nor expose himself to the attacks of the mainstream mass media, which he accuses of being at the service of the left and promoters of hate speech and fake news.

A poll published by the Washington Post found that about 60% of Republican voters would vote for Trump today. That's a 46-point lead over his main opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose support has waned in recent weeks.

DeSantis has begun to turn the corner, as he has struggled to maintain his campaign's lofty expectations. Republican support for him nationally has dropped substantially from the highest position he recorded this year.

In turn, Ramaswamy who leapt from anonymity in the first debate, criticized some rivals as "puppets of the super political action committees," who were using "prefabricated slogans prepared in advance" to attack him.

The other five candidates who meet the qualifications are former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Republican Candidates
The candidates due on stage are (from left) Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Doug Burgum. Scott Eisen/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP

Haley, the only woman in the debate, stood out with a statement that quoted a famous line from Margaret Thatcher, the first British prime minister in history: "If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman."


For Latinos, one of the priority issues will undoubtedly be immigration. In the prior debate all candidates have promised a tougher U.S. immigration policy and, in general, are betting on tougher action along the border with Mexico: from military operations against drug cartels to the completion of Trump's long-sought wall.

According to The Pew Research Center, a 55 percent of Hispanic Republicans say it is very important to increase U.S.-Mexico border security, compared with 74 percent of non-Hispanic Republicans. 32% of Hispanic Republicans versus 52% of non-Hispanic Republicans say it is important to increase deportations of immigrants living in the United States illegally.

On the other hand, Hispanic Republicans are more likely than non-Hispanic Republicans to say it is very important to allow immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to apply for legal status (33% vs. 14%) and to create a mechanism for most immigrants currently in the country illegally to regularize their status and remain here legally (28% vs. 8%).

Other controversial issues of interest to the Hispanic community include the economy, inflation, education, and health care, as well as Biden's age and Trump's judicial problems in the current presidential campaign.


The role of the media also deserves mention, both for the chosen moderators and for the audience. In the first debate, Fox News was overshadowed by journalist Tucker Carlson's interview with former President Trump, which overshadowed not only the network but the debate itself. While the debate was watched by nearly 13 million viewers, the interview was watched by an overwhelming 78 million viewers.

Today the debate will be anchored by an Afro-Latina woman. Anchor Ilia Calderon, 51, an Afro-Latina journalist, was born in Colombia and currently co-anchors Univision's national nightly newscast with Mexican anchor Jorge Ramos. Dana Perino and Stuart Varney will serve as anchors for Fox Business. On the other hand, Univision bests its competitor, Telemundo, covering news of the presidential election for Latinos.

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