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Republicans Will Hold Third Presidential Debate at University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa

(Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential candidates plan to gather at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa for their third debate, according to people familiar with the event’s planning.

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The showcase in the heart of the Deep South could prove decisive for some candidates, as the party looks to winnow the roster of those seeking the nomination.

Former President Donald Trump, who skipped the first debate in Milwaukee and has indicated he will also avoid a contest late next month at the Reagan Presidential Library in California, has been less definitive on the possibility of attending the third encounter.

A Trump spokesman, Steven Cheung, referred to the former president’s earlier vow on Truth Social to stay out of the debates. “I would take that as his position until he says otherwise,” Cheung said.

The Republican National Committee has not finalized plans for the Alabama debate, and those familiar with the planning who described the effort on the condition of anonymity say that the party is weighing dates in late October or early November.

Trump’s attendance would mark a turning point in a campaign that has seen him build an overwhelming lead over his second-place rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in polls of Republican primary voters.

Eight candidates took the stage at the first debate last week in Milwaukee. The second debate, to be held Sept. 27, will likely see a smaller field as the RNC incrementally increases the qualification requirements for each debate.

(Updates with Trump campaign statement, in the third paragraph)

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