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Díaz and Boas: The Republicans' Trump addiction will only give them more losses

The Republican presidential debates have done what they were supposed to do — narrow down a large and sometimes unruly field of candidates to a few, good options for GOP voters.

However, Phil Boas argues they have not solved the Republican Party’s larger problem: Donald J. Trump.

Boas is a columnist for the opinion pages in the Arizona Republic and he joined editorial page editor Elvia Díaz and The Show to talk more about it.

Interview highlights

Phil, what you make of the GOP debates? The latest one was just last week and the stage looked a lot less crowded than it had, and you sort of see two candidates as emerging as the obvious choices from these debates at least.

PHIL BOAS: I think it's, it is only a two-person race now to see who would replace Donald Trump if he's struck by lightning; if he's indicted or something like that, we'll see what happens there. But events could dictate this, and the Republicans definitely need somebody waiting in the wing ready to take over the nomination, and they have two people now. They have Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, and these are both two very strong candidates.

In DeSantis, you have a governor who took the state of Florida, that was a battleground state, and where two points was once a landslide in that state. He won that state by nearly 20 points with the reelection. He took control of the legislature of a number of the school boards. And he is saying that he can scale this up for the United States. He also inspires the most fear in the Democrats. And so most of the attacks by left wing media, the Democrats and also the Trump people have been against against him, against DeSantis.

Nikki Haley has really risen as ... I think, the star of these debates. She's really shown her meddle in all of this. One of the things that is happening in the larger world is we're beginning to realize that it indeed is a dangerous world, and we need somebody who's very tough to stand in the breac. And she is proving that she can do that, that she is hitting the right notes on the right themes. She was particularly strong after Oct. 7, and understanding that Israel needs to defeat Hamas. ... I think one of the advantages she has over DeSantis is she doesn't have the sharp elbows that he has, and would probably appeal to independent voters a lot more than DeSantis could.

Elvia, let's turn to you. You come at all of this from the other side of the political aisle. What's your take on these debates in general and what we've seen from the GOP? Do you agree with Phil's take that it kind of comes down to DeSantis and Haley?

ELVIA DIAZ: Well, yes. I think most political pundits and most Americans are really realizing that are ... the two that could possibly take on Donald Trump. Yes, I agree, you know, that these debates are incredibly consequential, because most Americans are not reading deeply into the candidates' platforms. So they become performative, and they give the public a glimpse o who they are and how and how they'll behave and how they will challenge Donald Trump. But, you know, unfortunately, Donald Trump is still winning according to the polls.

I was reading this morning that is Nikki Haley who actually has the money versus DeSantis. I mean, she's, she's gonna book $10 million in TV, radio and other advertising across Iowa and New Hampshire.

So then let's talk about the bigger issue that was brought up: Donald Trump. And Phil, you call this the GOP's addiction to Trump. National polls have Donald Trump up though against Joe Biden right now. Are we underestimating him this time around?

BOAS: No. He's going to lose if he gets the nomination, and Republicans will learn a hard lesson for the fourth time. It'll be the fourth cycle in a row that they lose. So they'll either wake up or they'll lose. Do not believe any of the polls right now. The Democrats are outspending the Republicans in all of the races. He is gonna get hit with a barrage with so much material against him, you know, two impeachments, four indictments. I mean, he is going to be hobbling into that race.

If the Republicans nominate him, they are setting themselves up to lose, and that'll go right down the line. He will cost candidates in all the states and set Republicans back in a year that they should win, because the Republicans are out polling the Democrats on virtually every issue but abortion.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.