With the stage set for the first Republican presidential debate, the circumstances are more unusual than ever.
Eight candidates are set to participate, but the best-case scenario for any of them is second place, considering the frontrunner will a no-show.
"This really speaks volumes not only to Mr. Trump's standing, but to the perilous state of the GOP," said David Birdsell of Kean University. "Clearly, the frontrunner at this point is able to say, 'nope, it's my party not yours.'"
The latest poll puts Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the lead as former President Donald Trump's rival.
But the lead also places him most under attack from every other opponent.
Earlier this month, a memo from a super PAC supporting the DeSantis campaign was published online outlining a strategy for him to come out swinging against the candidate who has risen to the third in the polls: entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who says his campaign platform is inspired by Trump.
Rounding out the rest of the lineup are North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who once prepped Trump for debates, but is now trailing heading into this one.
It's unclear what will catch the attention of voters, but Trump may steal the show as he is set for an interview with former Fox Host Tucker Carlson that is expected to stream at the very same time as the debate.
This all comes as Trump gets set to surrender to authorities on Thursday.
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