2nd Republican presidential debate spotlights health care, Ukraine, energy, education and more: Full coverage

Seven candidates square off at at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California while Trump held an event in Michigan.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley participate in the debate. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Seven Republican candidates took the stage Wednesday evening for the party’s second presidential debate.

There was one notable exception at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.: Former President Donald Trump, who again skipped the debate. Trump also avoided last month’s debate in Milwaukee and continues to hold a dominating position in the GOP race.

Read more on Yahoo News:

Our live coverage has concluded. Check out Yahoo News for the latest on the race, and see the blog below for a recap and analysis of Wednesday night's debate.

Live coverage is over
  • Christopher Wilson

    The next debate will be held on Nov. 8, when the candidates will gather again in Miami. Some of the candidates you saw on the stage tonight will likely not make it to the third round, as the standards set by the Republican National Committee to qualify have been raised: Participating candidates must secure 4% of the vote in multiple polls and 70,000 unique donors to earn a spot.

  • Jon Ward

    And as the debate wraps up, the Trump campaign sent out an email criticizing Haley, not just on one issue, but on five different things. It was a bit of a grab bag of attacks.

    It's a sign that Haley is now clearly rising to become Trump's main rival in the primary.

    She's in third in the national polling average, and she's in second in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and closing on DeSantis for second in Iowa.

  • Christopher Wilson

    In the debate's final minutes, the topic of abortion was finally raised by the moderators. Ballot measures protecting or expanding abortion rights have won consistently since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer, including in traditionally red states. DeSantis cited his success with independents in his 2022 gubernatorial victory, but he has since signed an unpopular 6-week ban.

  • Jon Ward

    I wrote this before the debate. I'd expect to see this trend continue after tonight:

    It’s really when you look at the rest of the field that the state-based polling tells a story worth noticing: Haley is on the verge of breaking out as DeSantis’s replacement in second place.

    In New Hampshire, Haley has rocketed past DeSantis. A month ago, Haley was at 4% in the Granite State, while DeSantis stood at 13%. Since then, Haley has surged to nearly 14% in the RCP average, while DeSantis has fallen to just under 10%.

    In South Carolina, Haley has a natural advantage as the state’s former governor, and she is all alone in second place in the Real Clear Politics average. And in Iowa, Haley is closing in on DeSantis as he loses support there as well.

  • Crystal Hill

    'Donald Duck': Chris Christie slams Trump for skipping GOP debates

    Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took direct aim at Donald Trump, who was noticeably absent for Wednesday’s second Republican debate, accusing the former president of being afraid to defend his record and “ducking” his party opponents.

    “Donald Trump should be here to answer to that, but he’s not,” Christie said in response to a question about the need for “law and order” in parts of the country dealing with rising crime. “Donald, I know you’re watching. You’re not here tonight – not because of polls and not because of your indictments – you’re not here because you’re afraid of being on this stage and defending your record.”

    “You’re ducking these things,” Christie added. “And let me tell you what’s going to happen. [If] you keep doing that, no one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore, we’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

    Read more from Yahoo News here.

  • Jon Ward

    "The Democratic Party lies in ruins" in Florida, DeSantis claims. One of the few moments of the night for the Florida governor where he was able to break through and beat his chest in a way that might actually appeal to Republican voters.

    Also interesting just now to see Haley and Scott get into a back-and-forth. That's the first time they've gone after each other and they've been friendly for years, both coming from South Carolina.

  • Christopher Wilson

    (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

    Haley and DeSantis had a back-and-forth about the latter's approach to energy in Florida. According to PolitiFact, "Just two days into his term, DeSantis issued an executive order with several water policy reforms and a line directing the Department of Environmental Protection to push to end all fracking in Florida."

  • Jon Ward

    Republican primary voters really, really care about immigration and border security. Worth noting that this is a feature of our current primary system, where a few million hard-line voters in a few states control each party's agenda by playing an outsize role in who each party nominates.

  • Christopher Wilson
  • Will Rahn

    Trump's refusal to debate, the reluctance of the rest of the field to attack him, and the anemic polling averages of all those on stage tonight almost makes this feel like a third-party debate, not a proper Republican one.