DeSantis to be at center stage in second GOP presidential debate

Florida governor and GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis will once again be at center stage Wednesday evening during the second GOP debate.

The debate will take place in California and air on Fox Business Network at 9 p.m. EDT.

Flanking DeSantis will be entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, with Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the next spots.

Rounding out the debate stage will be North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Former President Trump, the race’s double-digit front-runner, will not participate.

Fox’s Dana Perino, who will be one of the moderators Wednesday night, told The Hill she expects a more combative affair this time around.

“It’s obvious that President Trump’s lead is commanding and enduring and durable,” she said. “But the debate is not just to showcase these candidates. It’s for one of them to say ‘I can be his main rival.’ So I anticipate that the candidates know this is a really important moment for them.” 

She added that candidates are facing pressure to differentiate themselves from the field, which she predicted would play out on the debate stage.

“The first debate, everybody was getting their feet wet, introducing themselves to the GOP electorate, but now their donors and their supporters want to see if they’ve got legs to go the distance,” Perino told The Hill. “So you’ll see some posturing, I believe, in this debate because it is time for a breakout moment.” 

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