Republican hopefuls to make their case at first US presidential debate

The most notable absence on the debate stage will be Republican frontrunner and former President Donald Trump, who announced at the weekend that he would skip the event.

Trump met the debate qualifications, but he declined to participate, citing his commanding lead among Republican voters.

“People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate?” Trump said in a social media post.

In the lead-up to the debate, Trump indicated he would pursue counterprogramming during the event in an apparent effort to draw viewers away. On Wednesday morning, he announced a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson would air at the exact time the debate is scheduled to start.

A day earlier, he warned: “I WILL BE VERY BUSY TOMORROW NIGHT – ENJOY!!!”

Donald Trump
Trump says his sizeable lead in the Republican nomination race means he doesn’t have to participate in debates [File: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]
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