Donald Trump will ditch third debate to hold rally in nearby Florida town with Hispanic majority – USA TODAY
To no surprise, former president Donald Trump will not attend the third GOP primary debate in Miami.
Instead the Republican frontrunner will hold a rally Wednesday night at a stadium in Hialeah, Florida, just about a half-hour drive from the debate stage in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
The rally appears to be the perfect spot to help Republican efforts to win the Latino vote as recent census numbers show 95% of Hialeah residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.
During the 2022 midterms, Trump’s rival Gov. Ron DeSantis was the first Republican governor in 20 years to win over Miami-Dade County, which encompasses Hialeah. Once the clear second place candidate in the GOP race, DeSantis is currently battling for his standing against former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
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Trump, who ditched the last two debates, has repeatedly cited his large polling lead as a reason for his absences. Trump is among the five candidates who qualified for the debate along with DeSantis, Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
The former president has made it routine to compete with the debate broadcasts. During the first one in Milwaukee in August, a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson was posted the same night. While candidates faced off in Simi Valley, California in September, Trump spoke to auto workers in a rally against President Joe Biden’s push for electric cars.
Trump’s GOP rivals did not shy away from calling out Trump’s absences.
At the second debate in September, DeSantis responded to a question about a possible government shutdown by first taking aim at Biden and then criticizing Trump’s absence.
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“Where’s Joe Biden? He’s completely missing in action from leadership.” DeSantis said. “And you know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be on the stage tonight to defend his record.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Trump hides behind “walls of his golf clubs” instead of answering questions like the rest of the candidates on stage.
“You’re not here tonight not because of polls and not because of your indictments. You’re not here tonight because you’re afraid of being on this stage and defending your record,” Christie said while looking directly into the camera. “You keep doing that. No one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re gonna call you Donald Duck.”