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How to watch Haley, Ramaswamy, DeSantis and Christie face off in Wednesday's debate

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley puts her hand up to Vivek Ramaswamy while he speaks to her as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (C) listens during the NBC News Republican Presidential Primary Debate.
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Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley puts her hand up to Vivek Ramaswamy while he speaks to her as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (C) listens during the NBC News Republican Presidential Primary Debate.

Four Republicans seeking the nomination for president will get the chance to debate in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday night.

The Republican National Committee on Monday night confirmed the four candidates — Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis and Chris Christie — who will participate. And like the three debates prior, former President Donald Trump is planning to skip despite meeting the debate and fundraising qualifications.

Here's what you need to know about the fourth GOP debate.

How to watch the debate

The candidates will face off starting at 8 p.m. ET.

The debate will take place at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and will be moderated by Megyn Kelly, host of SiriusXM's The Megyn Kelly Show, Elizabeth Vargas, the anchor of NewsNation's Elizabeth Vargas Reports and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon.

The live debate will air on NewsNation and will be broadcast simultaneously in the Eastern and Central time zones on the company's broadcast television network, The CW, NewsNation's website and on Rumble, a video-sharing platform with a primarily right-wing audience.

Follow NPR for debate updates and analysis.

Who will be there? And who won't?

The debating candidates had to meet criteria set by the RNC, which included reaching steeper polling numbers and donor metrics than the last three debates, and meeting Federal Election Committee deadlines. They also had to sign a pledge agreeing to support the eventual party nominee. The last debatefeatured a stage with five candidates, but Sen. Tim Scott dropped out a few days later.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, second from left, joins Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on stage during a rally on Nov. 6 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Bryon Houlgrave / AP
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AP
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, second from left, joins Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on stage during a rally on Nov. 6 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: Over the last several weeks, the Florida governorhas retooled his campaign strategy. This includes pivoting to focus on issues voters care about like immigration and inflation. DeSantis last month picked up a big endorsement from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Still, DeSantis stayed the focus of Trump attack ads. Earlier in the year, he faced Republican criticism over laws signed in the state to limit abortion access and his response to immigration.

GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Bluffton, S.C.
Meg Kinnard / AP
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AP
GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Bluffton, S.C.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley: Haley, ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, has climbed up the polls in some states like New Hampshire in recent weeks. New Hampshire is among the early primary states and although Trump is still topping the polls, voters warn he shouldn't take their votes for granted. Haley was the first to challenge the former president and in the second GOP debate she sparred with DeSantis and then-candidate South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott over energy policy. During the third debate, she pushed to tie U.S. funding for Ukraine to funding for Israel.

Republican Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to supporters after the Thanksgiving Family Forum last month in Des Moines, Iowa.
Jim Vondruska / Getty Images
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Republican Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to supporters after the Thanksgiving Family Forum last month in Des Moines, Iowa.

Vivek Ramaswamy: He is the youngest GOP candidate and he uses social media platforms like TikTok and podcasts to gain notoriety among young voters, although that has drawn criticism from fellow candidates. The former tech and finance executivehas been a prominent voice in conservative circles, arguing against the environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement and against "woke"-ism. During the third GOP debate, during which foreign policy took center stage Ramaswamy argued against increasing funding to aid Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley speak with President and CEO of The Family Leader Bob Vander Plaats last month in Des Moines, Iowa.
Jim Vondruska / Getty Images
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Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley speak with President and CEO of The Family Leader Bob Vander Plaats last month in Des Moines, Iowa.

Gov. Chris Christie: The former New Jersey governor launched another bid for the Republican nomination. More recently, Christie visited Israel after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and met with survivors, the first GOP presidential candidate to do so since the war began. Since the start of the race, Christie has been positioning himself as the conservative alternative to Trump after breaking ties with the former president following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. During the second GOP debate, Christie said that he would "vote Donald Trump off the island right now."

Trump is eligible but choosing not to attend, despite being the current front-runner for the nomination.

Not eligible for the debate are: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Texas pastor Ryan Binkley.

Candidates who have dropped out include: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former Vice President Mike Pence, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, conservative talk show host Larry Elder and former Texas Congressman Will Hurd.

What is Trump doing instead?

Trump is not expected to hold counterprogramming aimed at drawing attention away from the prime-time debate. Instead,he is expected to attend an end-of-year reception in Hallandale Beach, Fla., aimed at raising money for the MAGA Inc. political action committee.

Trump has previously called on the RNC to cancel the debates and instead focus supports and resources towards supporting him.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks during a Nov. 18 rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Bryon Houlgrave / AP
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AP
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks during a Nov. 18 rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Corrected: December 6, 2023 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous version of this story incorrectly said former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was ineligible for the debate. He qualified for the debate.
Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.