The third Republican primary debate is about to unfold, with former President Trump absent and five candidates vying for attention.

The political stage is narrowing as the third Republican primary debate approaches, with only five contenders expected to convene in Miami. Notably, former President Donald Trump has chosen out of the debate, instead rallying his fans in Hialeah. Here’s what to expect. 

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will be on stage, as will former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. These candidates have met the Republican National Committee’s qualifications, which include supporting the eventual party nominee and meeting the required donor and polling levels.

With fewer contenders taking part, this debate may provide a more serious discussion than earlier events, which sometimes degraded into cross-talk chaos.  As the Iowa caucuses approach, the race for the runner-up position heats up. Expect a fierce debate between DeSantis and Haley, who are both running for this position and claim advantages in separate crucial states.

Given the event’s co-sponsorship by the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Israel-Hamas conflict is likely to be a key subject of the conversation. While most candidates favor Israel, differences in their positions may emerge.

This debate is a critical opportunity for candidates to make an impression on the Republican primary race, particularly DeSantis and Haley. With Trump leading the polls, they’ll try to position themselves as the most viable alternatives to the former president.

Also read | Republican candidates qualified for third GOP debate | Complete list

With the stage set in Miami, all eyes are on the five contenders as they seek to distinguish themselves and determine their trajectories during this crucial chapter of the Republican primary campaign in 2024.