The leading Republican presidential candidates had a spirited back-and-forth discussion during their first debate of the 2024 election season on Wednesday despite the leading candidate – former President Donald Trump – not being on stage.
Trump’s absence gave the candidates battling for second – including Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott – more time to talk. All total, eight candidates qualified and were on stage in Milwaukee, Wis.
Here are five key takeaways from the first debate:
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