The race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in the United States is heating up as hopefuls will take part in the party’s first debate next week.

The debate on Wednesday will offer the candidates a chance to directly make their case to the American public as they seek to narrow the gap with former President Donald Trump, who remains far ahead of the pack.

With Trump – who has not confirmed whether he will attend the debate – beset by legal issues, the event provides an opportunity for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and the other candidates to present themselves as viable alternatives.

The debate comes nearly six months before the Republican primary season – a series of state-level contests in which party voters choose their presidential candidate – kicks off in Iowa.