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GOP Debate: Most would support Trump even if convicted

Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have dominated the Republican presidential nomination fight for much of the year. Neither dominated the debate stage Wednesday night.

Trump, of course, decided to skip the GOP’s opening presidential primary debate given his overwhelming lead in the polls. DeSantis showed up, but he was overshadowed for much of the night by political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy.

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And there was no shortage of aggressive performances from the others on stage either. Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were aggressive when given the opportunity.

It took more than an hour for moderators to ask about Trump’s legal battles, a discussion previewed with a video of the Atlanta jail where he will surrender on charges Thursday.

The former president scheduled counterprogramming with an interview aired on X, formerly known as Twitter, while his team suggested that the debate was essentially an audience to see who’s best positioned to serve as his running mate.

Here are our takeaways from an action-filled night:

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