President Trump Postlaunch Remarks (NHQ202005300082)
President Trump Postlaunch Remarks (NHQ202005300082) by NASA HQ PHOTO is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Eight Republican presidential candidates face off for the first primary debate of the 2024 cycle Wednesday — with frontrunner Donald Trump bidding to steal the spotlight despite spurning the showdown.

The former president announced on the weekend that he would not be in Milwaukee for the two-hour event, depriving a chasing pack of rivals — who he leads by a large margin — of the opportunity to take shots at him.

"President Trump has already won this evening's debate because everything is going to be about him," said Chris LaCivita, a senior aide on the 77-year-old billionaire's campaign.

"Only President Trump has the policy ideas, the fortitude, and the polling to go head-to-head with Crooked Joe Biden in the general election."

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