1 of 11 | A supporter of former President Donald Trump walks past the campaign bus of candidate Vivek Ramaswamy outside Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Tuesday ahead of the first Republican presidential primary debate on Wednesday. Photo by Tannen Maury/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Eight presidential candidates are scheduled to take the stage Wednesday night in Milwaukee for the first Republican primary debate -- but not former President Donald Trump.
The debate will be held at the Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, and is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. EDT. It is slated to air for two hours on Fox News and be co-moderated by the network's anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
Nine candidates have qualified for the debate, but Trump, who is under indictment in four jurisdictions, said he will not participate.
To make the stage, candidates needed to tally at least 40,000 unique donors and poll at 1% in at least three national polls or two national polls and one early-voting state poll by the end of the day on Monday.
Onstage, candidates will be given 1 minute to answer questions posed by the moderators and 30 seconds to respond to follow-up questions or comments. There will be no opening statements, but candidates will have 45 seconds to deliver closing statements.
Trump announced earlier this week on social media that he will not debate, citing "legendary" poll numbers that he said show him 46 points ahead of his Republican competitors.
Trump will instead appear in a pre-recorded interview with Tucker Carlson, which is expected to be released on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday. Carlson left Fox News in April in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former producer and the network settling a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million.
The eight other candidates will use the debate to present their cases for the nomination: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
The debate will be the first time a majority of the Republican candidates have shared a venue since the Republican Party of Iowa Lincoln Dinner in July. Christie was the only candidate who did not attend that event.
The Republican candidates returned to Iowa for the state fair over the last two weeks, making their pitches at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox and in sit-down conversations with Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Christie was again the only candidate to miss it, though Trump did not take part in any of the scheduled events. Instead he made a solo appearance, briefly walking around the fairgrounds for about an hour on Aug. 12.
Each candidate has attempted to carve out an alternative to Trump's vision for the GOP.
Consistent among them is their displeasure with the state of the economy, immigration and the national debt under Democratic President Joe Biden.
Trafficking of the drug fentanyl has also been an oft-cited topic among the candidates.
Hutchinson was the latest candidate to qualify for the debate, reaching 40,000 unique donors on Sunday. He marked qualifying by riding the Slingshot ride at the Iowa State Fair.
"I made you a promise. I said that if you all helped me reach the debate stage, I would ride the Slingshot at the Iowa State Fair," Hutchinson tweeted. "A deal is a deal and I keep my promises."
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa Lincoln Dinner
in Des Moines, Iowa on July 28. Iowa holds its caucus on January 15. Photo by Tannen Maury/UPI | License Photo