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Republican debate: What voters should be watching for

Seven Republican candidates will take to the debate stage tonight for the second GOP presidential debate. The current front-runner, Former President Donald Trump, will most notably be absent, skipping the event to give a speech to striking auto workers in Detroit. Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Rick Newman breaks down what to expect from the debate and what voters need to pay close attention to from each candidate.

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Video Transcript


BRAD SMITH: Welcome back. We are live from the NASDAQ market site. You're watching Yahoo Finance. Seven Republican 2024 presidential hopefuls set to take the stage tonight. That's down on person from the last debate after former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson failed to qualify. Former President Trump, currently the front runner for the party's nomination, is also skipping the event. Here with what's worth keeping on your radar tonight at the debate is Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman. Hey, Rick.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, guys. So of the people who did participate in the last debate, Nikki Haley many analysts think did best, and she has actually risen in the polls-- in a couple of polls. She's actually now number two behind-- way behind Donald Trump, but she has jumped over Ron DeSantis to lead number two.

So one thing I'm looking for is if some of the other candidates in this debate will actually start attacking Nikki Haley, trying to bring her down, which would indicate-- that would actually be a good thing for her. It would indicate she kind of has frontrunner status among those who are at the debate, not including Trump, of course.

Vivek Ramaswamy, he made a big splash in the first debate because nobody ever heard of him and he came out as this brash upstart who kind of wouldn't shut up, so I think we're going to find out does he sort of command the microphone as much as he did the first time around? And I'll always be watching for whether any of these candidates actually change their approach to former President Donald Trump. Really the only one who has really attacked Trump has been Chris Christie. We'll see if anybody else actually goes after Trump. I'm not expecting it.

But we do have this interesting development that Trump has now been found liable for fraud in this civil suit in New York State, so that basically relates to him undervaluing his properties by hundreds of millions of dollars over many years. And he has to pay a $250 million fine if that holds, so we'll see if any of the candidates mention that along with the four criminal cases involving 91 criminal charges against former President Trump.

SEANA SMITH: Rick, you just mentioned that latest ruling that we got from the New York judge about fraud and talking about the valuing of his assets. When you talk about how this could potentially complicate his campaign, just another distraction here for President Trump, do you it's really going to move the needle at all? Because his supporters up until this point have really brushed off all of his legal issues.

RICK NEWMAN: Well, it's an expensive distraction if it holds. In addition to that $250 million fine, the judge in that case basically decertified some very important Trump businesses that are worth a lot of money to him-- real estate basically. And for anybody who's wondering what the heck is this all about, this is the culmination of all the exposes including leaks by Trump's-- helped by Trump's niece Mary Trump to the New York Times while Trump was president about how he got away with paying no taxes in New York State and in New York City for many years.

Basically, it's a complicated story. But basically by severely undervaluing his properties and saying they were worth a lot less and then he would go to banks and say they were worth a lot more so he could get bigger loans, well, that turned into a civil case, and that civil case has now come to fruition. Trump will appeal that. We'll see if it holds.

Will this make a difference layering it on top of the four criminal cases? I doubt it. I think there are so many legal matters involving Trump that voters just know he's facing a pile of legal trouble and they're not distinguishing among the criminal cases and the civil cases. It's another-- it's a big problem for Trump. I mean, it actually threatens the viability of his business in New York State. But given everything else. I don't think that is something voters are really going to focus on.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, Trump calling it un-American, part of the ongoing plot here to damage his campaign to return to the White House. So of course, we're going to continue to follow that. Rick, thanks.

RICK NEWMAN: Bye, guys.