Factbox-Who qualified for the third 2024 Republican presidential debate?

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(Reuters) - Five Republican candidates will take part in the third 2024 Republican presidential debate on Wednesday in Florida. Donald Trump is set to skip the event.

Here are the candidates who are due to be on stage for the debate, which begins at 8 p.m. ET (0100 GMT on Thursday) at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, and is hosted by NBC News:

RON DESANTIS

After a glitch-filled campaign launch in May on Twitter, now called X, DeSantis has positioned himself to the right of Trump on a number of key social issues such as abortion. But his well-funded campaign has struggled to gain traction, and his top donor has said he will not give the Florida governor more money unless DeSantis adopts a more moderate approach.

DeSantis, 45, is Trump's top rival, but remains nearly 40 percentage points behind the former president in opinion polls. He has fired staff and rebooted his campaign several times since May, but those steps have done little to boost his candidacy. DeSantis' campaign says it is focused on stopping Trump in Iowa, where the party will hold its first nominating contest in January.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY

A former biotechnology investor and executive, Ramaswamy, 38, started a company in 2022 to pressure firms to abandon environmental, social, and corporate governance initiatives. The political outsider has stoked grassroots chatter as a potential alternative to Trump.

Ramaswamy is a fervent supporter of the former president and says that if he won the White House, he would pardon Trump.

NIKKI HALEY

A former South Carolina governor and Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Haley, 51, has emphasized her relative youth compared to Biden and Trump, as well as her background as the daughter of Indian immigrants.

Haley has gained a reputation in the Republican Party as a solid conservative who has the ability to address issues of gender and race in a more credible fashion than many of her peers. She has also pitched herself as a stalwart defender of American interests abroad. She has low single-digit support among Republicans, according to opinion polls.

TIM SCOTT

The only Black Republican U.S. senator has low name recognition outside his home state of South Carolina, but his optimism and focus on unifying his divided party have helped him draw a contrast with a more aggressive approach from Trump and DeSantis.

Scott's supporters, however, acknowledge that while his sunny demeanor is a selling point, it may not be enough to win. Scott, 58, attracted 2% support among Republicans, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling conducted from Sept. 8 through Sept. 14.

CHRIS CHRISTIE

Christie, 61, advised Trump's White House campaign, but became a vocal critic of the former president after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

The former New Jersey governor and federal prosecutor stepped up his verbal attacks as Trump faced a growing number of criminal charges. Christie has received about 2% support among Republicans in a Reuters/Ipsos conducted from Sept. 8 through Sept. 14.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Jamie Freed)