The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Republican rivals clash sharply in combative debate with no Trump

By Josh Dawsey

24 Aug 2023 · 7 min read

informed Summary

  1. The first Republican presidential debate saw contenders target each other as much as they did the absent front-runner, Donald Trump. The debate marked the official start of the nomination battle.

MILWAUKEE - Republican presidential contenders targeted each other Wednesday as much as they did the absent front-runner, Donald Trump, in a combative first debate with a series of heated clashes reflecting the fierce competition to emerge as the main alternative to the former president.

Trump's decision to skip the event, a choice that highlighted his commanding polling lead, left him without a defense over two hours that marked the official start of the nomination battle. His biggest consolation came when all but one of the candidates onstage raised their hands to signal they would support Trump if he won the nomination and was convicted of a crime in a court of law. Trump has been indicted four times and faces 91 criminal charges and will surrender in Georgia on Thursday.

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