The second Republican presidential debate will occur at 9:00 p.m. ET Wednesday in Simi Valley, California, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, but the real action in the GOP field is happening thousands of miles away in the upper rust belt in Michigan where GOP frontrunner former President Donald Trump will host an event with striking auto workers one day after incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden walked the picket line there.

Nonetheless, the second GOP debate comes after the first one–which Fox News hosted with moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum in Milwaukee back in August–ended badly for the host network and saw basically no major changes in the trajectory of the primary.

Baier and MaCallum were roundly ripped for not asking serious enough questions about serious enough issues, and after the first debate the only thing that really changed in the race was an intensification of existing trends: the collapse of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the continued interest by some others in people like former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, more attention on businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and a general effort by basically everyone else to try to get some kind of traction or attention.

Supporters of former president and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump walk past flags on the way to a rally in Clinton, Michigan, on September 27, 2023. (MATTHEW HATCHER/AFP via Getty Images)

A supporter is interviewed before former President Donald Trump speaks in Clinton Township, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Mike Mulholland)

As the primary has become a “snoozer,” per one report, Fox has even slashed advertising rates for this event.

So Wednesday’s debate offers Fox a shot at redemption, somewhat, as its partner network Fox Business will host this event and it will be moderated by Stuart Varney and Dana Perino. Univision’s Ilia Calderon, a biased and vehemently anti-Trump leftist, will join them as a co-moderator.

This debate also has fewer candidates than the first one, as former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson failed to meet Republican National Committee (RNC) standards to qualify to appear on stage. Those on stage will include Haley, DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

And while Fox is fighting for redemption after the embarrassment that was Baier and MacCallum’s first debate, so too are the candidates not named Trump as they seek to do something–anything–to change the trajectory of things. More and more in American GOP politics are beginning to accept as inevitable Trump’s return as the eventual GOP nominee, and unless something breaks through for someone else soon it seems like those coming to terms with that might be right.

That’s why Trump’s efforts to counter-program these debates while not giving them the credence worthy of his participation–he successfully did so last time in an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and aims to do so again on Wednesday–are also just as, if not more, interesting a story than what seem like the last whimpers of the donor class’s thus far failed efforts to stop him.

As these dueling stories play out Wednesday evening, follow along here on Breitbart News for live updates and coverage of Trump’s visit to Michigan and the debate in California.

UPDATE 11:17 p.m. ET:

Who do you think won the second GOP debate tonight? VOTE in the Breitbart News poll here!

UPDATE 11:05 p.m. ET:

The Trump campaign, after the second debate went even more haywire than the first one, is now openly calling on the Republican National Committee (RNC) t0 cancel any future debates and save the money and resources to be used for the general election to defeat Joe Biden:

UPDATE 11:00 p.m. ET:

Fox abruptly ended the debate after more chaos.

UPDATE 10:51 p.m. ET:

The debate devolved into chaos again so Varney threw it to a commercial break again. What an embarrassment for Fox and for the RNC.

UPDATE 10:47 p.m. ET:

The moderators finally turn to Burgum for a pair of questions which he knocks out of the park.

UPDATE 10:40 p.m. ET:

DeSantis just compared himself to George H.W. Bush, the last president elected who had served in uniform overseas before getting elected. Probably not the best strategy. Overally, with just 20 minutes left in this disaster of a debate, DeSantis has not had any breakout moments and does not appear to have changed anything about the trajectory of this race.

UPDATE 10:38 p.m. ET:

The genius anchors at Fox keep cutting off the one candidate on stage tonight who has not made major mistakes–Burgum–as he tries to weigh in on issues on which he is uniquely more qualified than any of the others to talk about like energy. Total embarrassment.

Meanwhile, Haley and DeSantis keep talking over each other as Fox lost control yet again.

UPDATE 10:31 p.m. ET:

The concern about the failures of this debate are growing among Trump opponents:

UPDATE 10:22 p.m. ET:

The moderators mostly seem to have given up and are just letting the candidates attacking each other on stage. An exasperated Varney moves in to ask Christie a question–and Christie again backs continuing to fund the war in Ukraine with American tax dollars.

UPDATE 10:17 p.m. ET:

The candidates are all taking over each other again as the moderators have completely lost control of the debate again. Now, Perino is threatening to cut candidates’ microphones to regain control.

UPDATE 10:04 p.m. ET:

The candidates are continuing to talk over the moderators. And while this is all going on, Trump’s campaign is tweeting out photographs of Christie being extremely overweight.

UPDATE 10:02 p.m. ET:

Even people like Scott Jennings, who like Perino was a George W. Bush White House Press Secretary, says the debate is “unwatchable.”

The House that Rupert Built–Fox News and its partners like Fox Business–is in trouble just weeks after Rupert Murdoch handed operational control of the network to his son.

UPDATE 9:50 p.m. ET:

Varney again has to reiterate the rules of the debate to the candidates as the Fox anchors have again lost control of the discussion.

Watching this is like watching the end of globalism in real time. Rupert Murdoch’s former network is in trouble.

UPDATE 9:46 p.m. ET:

Trump’s campaign is boasting that he was easily proven correct for not going to this disaster of a debate:

UPDATE 9:45 p.m. ET:

People are ripping Fox News and the Republican National Committee for allowing a Univision leftist like Ilia Calderon to hijack the GOP debate:

UPDATE 9:42 p.m. ET:

even Hillary Clinton herselfChristie attacks Trump using a Democrat line, calling him “Donald Duck”–just like leftists tried but failed to do in 2016. It’s such a blatant Democrat attack that knew of it.

UPDATE 9;38 p.m. ET:

Upon return from the lengthy commercial break, Perino re-informs the candidates of the debate rules as the moderators seek to regain control of the debate.

UPDATE 9:34 p.m. ET:

As DeSantis scrambles but fails to try to respond to Pence, Varney interrupts and throws the disastrous debate into its first commercial break.

UPDATE 9:33 p.m. ET:

Pence is now attacking DeSantis for increasing spending in Florida–after just blowing right through Calderon’s question and not answering it.

UPDATE 9:31 p.m. ET:

Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Scott are duking it out while many others are speaking over them. Fox News has completely lost control of the second debate even worse than the first debate. What a disaster.

UPDATE 9:28 p.m. ET:

Vivek Ramaswamy made an impassioned case against birthright citizenship, and now Scott is arguing against him.

UPDATE 9:21 p.m. ET:

The candidates and moderators are talking over each other again. Calderon keeps trying to move to immigration.

Now, Calderon is trying to use Reagan to push amnesty for illegal aliens.

UPDATE 9:18 p.m. ET:

DeSantis, oddly, attacks Trump for being “missing in action” on the issue of the auto strike–something that makes absolutely zero sense since Trump is literally with the workers in Michigan while DeSantis and the rest of the field are on a debate stage thousands of miles away in California.

UPDATE 9:14 p.m. ET:

Burgum jumps in out of turn and hammers Biden for cutting access to capital investment, saying Biden’s interference with markets is shipping auto worker jobs overseas. But the broader picture of this opening of this debate is that the Fox moderators again seem to have lost control fo the discussion–Univision’s Calderon jumps back in to throw the conversation to Christie. Other candidates are beginning to talk over him. Fox has lost control of the conversation.

UPDATE 9:12 p.m. ET:

Pence is up next, and he says Biden does not belong on a picket line he belongs in the umemployment line. Pence is blasting Biden’s Green New Deal agenda arguing that the UAW strikes are because inflation is out of control due to Biden’s environmental and economic policies. He also pushes for right-to-work policies.

UPDATE 9:08 p.m. ET:

Scott attacked unions right away, and then moderators went to Ramaswamy where he stepped in to defend workers and rip union bosses instead.

Meanwhile, this is really the split screen of the evening:

UPDATE 9:07 p.m. ET:

The debate has already started off rocky as Univision’s Ilia Calderon spoke in Spanish at the outset. The first question goes to Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) about workers and the UAW strike.

UPDATE 8:53 p.m. ET:

Trump asked the crowd of union workers to get their leaders to endorse him in 2024, to which the worker crowd cheers loudly. It is unclear if the union would break with recent tradition to do so, but Trump says if they get the UAW to formally endorse him “I’ll take care of the rest” in terms of saving the auto industry and securing higher wages for workers.

“To the striking workers, I support you,” Trump said.

But he argued that they need to get their leaders to get Biden to walk back his push for electric vehicles because that will help secure their industry’s future.

Trump mocks Biden, too, saying he only had 11 people there when he came on Tuesday. Trump’s event, he said, has 10,000 people there. The thousands inside are chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump!”

UPDATE 8:50 p.m. ET:

Former Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Bill O’Reilly are also, in addition to Trump, screwing their former network over with counterprogramming of their own on Wednesday evening. Watch their discussion, which Carlson just released, here:

UPDATE 8:47 p.m. ET:

Trump is joking about how he’s competing with the “job candidates”–the GOP debate out in Simi Valley, in other words, he argues is a competition for who would get to serve in his administration from Vice President on down to Cabinet secretaries and lower than that even.

“They’ll do anything,” Trump says of the other candidates.

UPDATE 8:25 p.m. ET:

More from Simi Valley from Joel Pollak:

UPDATE 8:23 p.m. ET:

Trump is openly ripping electric vehicles, saying they cost too much and the equipment does not work. He is also saying the Biden plan is to have China build the cars, whereas if Trump is reelected in 2024 he will ensure that vehicles are made in America with “high wage” U.S. labor.

UPDATE 8:20 p.m. ET:

Trump is bashing the Biden administration for “selling you out to China” on the president’s radical electric vehicle plans.

“Crooked Joe is siding with the left wing crazies who will destroy auto manufacturing,” Trump said.

UPDATE 8:19 p.m. ET:

The UAW workers and others at Trump’s event are openly booing Biden when Trump brought up that he only came for a few minutes for a photo op at the picket line, rather than doing anything to support the striking workers.

UPDATE 8:15 p.m. ET:

Trump is taking the stage in Clinton Township now in Michigan. He noted that there are “thousands and thousands” of people outside trying to get in.

He also said he is “thrilled” to be with UAW members and autoworkers.

“I want to begin this evening by saluting these great Americans who do not get the credit they deserve,” Trump said.

UPDATE 8:14 p.m. ET:

While this is all going on tonight around the country on the 2024 presidential election, Congress is currently debating funding bills as a shutdown looms. Interestingly, while an amendment from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) cutting funding for Ukraine out of the defense appropriations bill failed in the House, it saw significantly more support than a similar measure just weeks ago:

This means that inside the GOP the public is getting tired of seeing U.S. tax dollars flow to Ukraine, while major problems exist here at home. The growing sentiment against the war effort is detrimental to the globalist Republicans and the Democrats who seem to want the war to go on forever.

UPDATE 8:09 p.m. ET:

Meanwhile in Simi Valley, California, here are some images from our own Joel Pollak of protesters gathered outside the GOP debate:

UPDATE 8:08 p.m. ET:

Here is Trump touring a Drake Enterprises Plant:

The workers there love Trump:

UPDATE 7:55 p.m. ET: 

Breitbart News economics editor John Carney has a fantastic piece out explaining the stakes of the UAW strike ahead of tonight’s debate and Trump’s trip to Michigan.

Carney channels the late great Phyllis Schlafly in arguing there is a “CHOICE NOT AN ECHO” on the strike for the GOP.

Carney writes that viewers should think “of tonight’s debate as test of whether the GOP will offer the American people a choice for which party can defend workers best or an echo of a misremembered past.”

“The Republican Party has talked a very good game in recent years about representing the working men and women of the United States, especially in the industrial sector,” Carney continues. “Now the United Auto Workers union is engaged in an historic strike against all three of the Big Three auto corporations—the first time the union has faced down all three at once—and Republicans have the opportunity to show that their pro-worker stance is more than rhetoric.”

Make sure to read the whole piece (and subscribe to Carney’s Breitbart Business Digest newsletter — available halfway through the link) as it really puts the issue in context as the battle for America’s working class kicks into high gear in the 2024 presidential election.

UPDATE 7:47 p.m. ET:

it’s worth noting that Trump;s rally for auto workers on Wednesday evening is in Clinton Township, Michigan, located in Macomb County–which is the home of the famous Reagan and Trump Democrats who helped propel both Reagan and Trump to the White House.

This is the heart of UAW country in Michigan. And while UAW president Sean Fain who appeared with Biden on Tuesday might have his reservations about Trump, rank and file UAW members who voted for Trump certainly do not.

UPDATE 7:35 p.m. ET:

The Trump team says that DeSantis’s goose is almost cooked. Frankly, they’re right. If DeSantis does not begin showing movement his way very soon, his campaign’s collapse will continue:

In fact, the timeline that DeSantis’s own team gave themselves for a turnaround over a month ago is almost up.

UPDATE 7:29 p.m. ET:

There are a number of Trump supporters gathered outside the Reagan Library too:

UPDATE 7:27 p.m. ET:

From Breitbart News’s Joel Pollak, who’s at the debate in Simi Valley for us:

UPDATE 7:25 p.m. ET:

Trump has arrived in Michigan:

“We’re going to see the UAW,” Trump said, referring to the striking auto workers.