GOP candidates vying for the nomination in a big-picture debate on Thursday night will take a stand on the GOP’s future in the country.
While most of the candidates are talking about how they would make a bigger difference for the country and the economy, there is one that has become a national talking point: Donald Trump.
Trump’s comments have prompted Democrats to push back against Republicans who are trying to portray him as a fringe figure who has been a distraction from the campaign.
On Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Democratic Caucus, said Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and his refusal to denounce the Ku Klux Klan have been damaging to the GOP.
“I think it’s clear that we need to have a big debate, and it needs to be in a way that is a bigger picture of what we’re going to do as a party,” Dingell said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“We have to talk about what is actually in the best interest of the country, not just Donald Trump’s views on immigration, and we have to do that in a manner that doesn’t make him look like he’s just one or two guys in the crowd, like the other Republicans,” she added.
The debate on the stage will be moderated by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, and the topics will include the state of the economy and foreign policy.
The candidates are not expected to be pressed directly on their views on the border wall, the border, or the federal budget.
Dingell said Trump has made the border “a political football,” and the GOP should be able to have its own debate.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has not responded to requests for comment on whether he will participate in the debate.
Rubio was asked about the issue at a debate in the Florida suburbs of Miami on Monday.
“We’re talking about what are the things that we can do to help keep our economy strong, create more jobs, help keep the American people safe,” Rubio said.
“I’m not going to be a part of that conversation.”
Dengel said it is time for Republicans to start taking a bigger position on the future of the party.
“I’ve heard some of the other candidates talking about Donald Trump as a guy that’s in the ‘big picture,’ a big, big issue, but I think that the big picture is the bigger picture,” Dingel said.