BEDMINSTER, New Jersey (WABC) -- As the weather warms, the race for the White House heats up among Republicans and former President Donald Trump is back in New Jersey for the summer.
Trump returned to Bedminster after a campaign stop in Iowa where he was on the attack, taking on the governor of Florida.
"I've been watching DeSantis go out and say, 'I've got eight years, it's going to be 8 years,' let me tell you something, right there you should vote against him, it'll take me six months to have it totally the way it was, we'll have it fast," Trump said.
Ron DeSantis presses the point he is a better option to take on President Joe Biden in the fall of 2024.
"We know the country is going in the wrong direction, we see it in virtually every indicator ... the economy, the border," DeSantis said.
Early polling shows Trump has a sizable advantage over DeSantis.
"Republican voters feel that they like Donald Trump, like Ron DeSantis and think that Donald Trump is the stronger candidate," said Patrick Murray of Monmouth University.
The three main candidates in the GOP race are staking their claim for the nomination with Trump, DeSantis and Nikki Hailey working to grow their support.
But the field continues to expand with former Vice President Mike Pence expected to announce his candidacy next week along with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who experts say is seeking political revenge against Trump.
"I think he gas got an arsenal of attacks he is going to use that he feels is going to be effective in discrediting Trump," said Ross Baker of Rutgers University.
Christie's first real crack at Trump comes during the first Republican debate this summer.
The first 2024 Republican presidential debate will be held Aug. 23, the Republican National Committee announced Friday, with a second debate the following night should it be needed.
The RNC also detailed the criteria that will be used for candidates to qualify for the debate stage, including a pledge to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee. That requirement could keep some candidates off the stage, including Trump, who hasn't committed to supporting the nominee if he doesn't emerge from the primary. Trump also has questioned why he would participate since he holds a commanding lead in GOP primary polls.
The debate will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which also will be the site of the party's nominating convention next year. It's a nod to the importance of the battleground state, which is likely to be key to a presidential victory again in 2024.
Trump has said so far that he wouldn't promise to support the nominee if someone else wins the nomination, telling radio host Hugh Hewitt, "It would have to depend on who the nominee was."
Christie, who plans to launch his campaign in New Hampshire next week, has said he would never support Trump as the party's 2024 nominee, as he did in 2016.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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