NATIONAL NEWS

How to watch the fourth Republican presidential debate and what to look for

Dec 5, 2023, 12:37 PM

FILE - Republican presidential candidates from left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former ...

FILE - Republican presidential candidates from left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, arrive on stage before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. A two-hour Republican presidential primary debate will start at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 6, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The number of candidates on stage is shrinking, but the fundamentals of Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate may be familiar to anyone who has watched the previous three meetings.

No one has yet emerged as the clear Republican alternative to former President Donald Trump, whose lead is so big that he has skipped all the debates. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appear to be leading the fight for a distant second place, yet conservative entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are still factors.

Here’s how to watch the debate and what to watch for:

What time is the Republican debate?

The two-hour debate will start at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. It’s being moderated by NewsNation’s Elizabeth Vargas; Megyn Kelly, host of “The Megyn Kelly Show” on SiriusXM; and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon.

What channel is the Republican debate on?

NewsNation says the event will air on its website and streaming platforms. It will be broadcast live on The CW network in the eastern half of the country and tape-delayed out West. NewsNation has been soliciting audience questions via an online submission form.

The Republican National Committee has partnered with Rumble — a video-sharing platform popular with some conservatives — to livestream the debate.

Where is the Republican debate?

The setting for the fourth GOP debate is the Moody Music Hall at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama voters will make their presidential picks on March 5, part of more than a dozen Super Tuesday states. That’s when the largest number of delegates is up for grabs of any single day in the primary cycle.

In general elections, the state has been in the red column for decades, last supporting a Democrat for president when Jimmy Carter ran in 1976.

Which candidates will be on stage?

Four Republicans will be on the debate stage, the smallest field yet as polling and donor benchmarks for qualification rise.

DeSantis, Ramaswamy, Haley and Christie met the Republican National Committee’s requirements to participate in Wednesday’s event in Tuscaloosa.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott was on stage for the third debate but has since shuttered his presidential campaign. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who didn’t qualify for the third debate, suspended his campaign earlier this week.

Trump will hold a fundraiser in Florida in lieu of participating.

Small stage, big opportunity?

Just four Republicans will share the stage, the smallest crowd to date. For context, at this point in the 2016 Republican primary, there were still more than a dozen candidates featured on two debate stages.

Fewer candidates, of course, means more airtime for each on national television. The big question: Can any of the participants take advantage of the opportunity and change the trajectory of the race?

This is the final scheduled debate, although at least one more is likely in the days before Iowa’s Jan. 15 caucuses.

Can Haley convince skeptical Republicans?

Of all the candidates on stage, Haley has shown real signs of growing interest in her campaign, including high-profile endorsements, large crowds and some polling gains in key early states.

But she’s most popular among the donor class, moderates and the relatively small NeverTrump wing of the party. It’s hard to win a Republican primary in 2024 with such a coalition.

To take a big step forward, she’s needs to convince more hardcore conservatives and Trump voters that she’s conservative enough.

Part of Haley’s problem, of course, is that the definition of conservative has changed in the Trump era. These days, it’s got far more to do with fealty to Trump, an “America First” foreign policy and a focus on culture wars rather than the traditional conservative emphasis on fiscal discipline, social issues and a muscular foreign policy.

In recent days, DeSantis has gone after Haley for supposedly embracing a liberal policy on legal immigration and for failing to wade into the fight over transgender bathroom use while she was South Carolina’s governor.

Such issues touch on the very heart of what it means to be a conservative in 2024. How she handles them on stage Wednesday night may determine if she can attract the conservative coalition she needs to emerge as a true threat to Trump.

Will woke return?

One of the more remarkable shifts in the Republican presidential primary over the last year has been the candidates’ move away from the word “woke.”

Two of the four candidates on stage, DeSantis and Ramaswamy, built their political brands on their opposition to so-called woke policies designed to offer protections for women, racial minorities and the LGBTQ community.

DeSantis launched his presidential campaign this spring by reminding voters that Florida is “where woke goes to die.” Ramaswamy referred to himself as the intellectual godfather of the anti-woke movement.

Yet in the last debate, the word “woke” was referenced only twice.

That could change on Wednesday, especially with conservative Megyn Kelly serving as one of the moderators.

Kelly has been eager to attack the woke movement when given the opportunity. Over the summer, she went after Disney for introducing more racial minorities and LGBTQ characters in its recent films.

DeSantis led a high-profile fight against Disney that was a pillar of his early campaign messaging. While he has largely avoided the topic in recent debates, Kelly may press the issue this time around.

___

Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

___

Peoples reported from New York.

National News

Associated Press

A New York collector pleads guilty to smuggling rare birdwing butterflies

NEW YORK (AP) — A Long Island man has pleaded guilty to illegally trafficking birdwing butterflies and other rare insects, according to a plea deal filed in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday. Charles Limmer, 75, of Commack, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to smuggle wildlife into the country and agreed to pay a $30,215 […]

39 minutes ago

Associated Press

A pregnant Amish woman is killed in her rural Pennsylvania home, and police have no suspects

SPARTANSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Investigators have no suspects in the killing of a pregnant 23-year-old Amish woman inside her home in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, and are appealing for tips from the public to help solve the crime, a state police spokeswoman said Wednesday. Rebekah A. Byler was the victim of a criminal homicide inside her […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Police in suburban Chicago are sued over a fatal shooting of a man in his home

CHICAGO (AP) — The sisters of a man fatally shot in his home this month by suburban Chicago police filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the officers and their department, alleging wrongful death and other counts. Kyenna McConico and Kennetha Barnes, sisters of Isaac Goodlow III, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago […]

2 hours ago

Workers drive among shipping containers and trailers at a BNSF intermodal terminal, Jan. 3, 2024, i...

Associated Press

US economy grew solid 3.2% in fourth quarter, a slight downgrade from government’s initial estimate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a robust 3.2% annual pace from October through December, propelled by healthy consumer spending, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday in a slight downgrade from its initial estimate. The expansion in the nation’s gross domestic product — the economy’s total output of goods and services — slipped from […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Activists mark the first anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Wom...

Associated Press

About as many abortions are happening in the US monthly as before Roe was overturned, report finds

The number of abortions performed each month is about the same as before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the nationwide right to abortion more than a year and a half ago, a new report finds. The latest edition of the #WeCount report conducted for the Society of Family Planning, a nonprofit […]

3 hours ago

This undated photo shows oral historian Francine D. Spang-Willis, who is leading a project to creat...

Associated Press

Laurene Powell Jobs’ philanthropy seeks to strengthen communities with grants for local leaders

Francine Spang-Willis wishes the landscape of the Crazy Mountains near Livingston, Montana, could speak for itself. But absent that, the oral historian will launch a new project talking to people with a connection to the land. Spang-Willis is one of a dozen new fellows announced Wednesday by the Emerson Collective, Laurene Powell Jobs’ philanthropy. In […]

3 hours ago

How to watch the fourth Republican presidential debate and what to look for