Bickering in California leaves Donald Trump the winner in latest Republican clash

ITV News' US Correspondent Robert Moore was live from Detroit where Trump was due to address car workers just one day after his rival, Joe Biden

Over two thousand miles separated the bulk of the Republican presidential candidates and the clear leader of the pack. 

Last night, at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in California, seven Republicans debated, argued, and bickered among themselves as they sought to emerge as viable candidates to take on Joe Biden for the White House next year.

But Donald Trump is so confident he can win the Republican nomination, he didn’t even turn up for the presidential debate.

Instead, he opted to tour a factory outside of Detroit.

Even if Trump was behind bars, this voter told US Correspondent Robert Moore she would write his name on the ballot

It was quite a gesture by Trump. Ignore the competition; leave rivals to fight among themselves; visit the American industrial heartland to show solidarity with aggrieved workers.

But even if he’s far ahead in the polls for the Republican nomination, Trump has a fresh reason to be deeply concerned.

For in a new legal development, New York’s Attorney General is poised to take down the Trump business empire by judging it fraudulent, and a judge has rejected Trump’s attempt to stop the civil court case from proceeding.

Trump uses a speech in Michigan on Wednesday night to mock Joe Biden

Trump may now lose control of his most valuable properties. His sons may lose their homes. He may be fined $250 million. And he has been branded a fraud for wildly exaggerated the value of his assets.

All of this is in addition to the four indictments and the 91 criminal charges.

So, Trump faces not just the potential to be convicted and jailed, but also the likely loss of much of his property empire and his business reputation. 

And yet - astonishingly - Trump is still far ahead of those seven other presidential candidates.

Mike Pence debates at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in California. Credit: AP

They had a car-crash of a debate in California, punctuated by bitter personal barbs and angry policy exchanges.

Trump will feel vindicated. Skipping the debate was smart politics.

But his greatest challenge isn’t overcoming a political rival.

It’s about surviving a legal onslaught in four jurisdictions that could see Trump behind bars - and the loss of his business empire - before he even has the chance to win back the White House.

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