Ten Republican candidates will go at it during tonight’s main debate in Colorado. Several others will take part in an earlier debate starting at 6. Here’s a look at some ways you can take part in the debate tonight.
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5 things to watch for during tonight’s debates
1) The Trump-Carson fight
This is the first of the Republican debates where Ben Carson has been tied or ahead of Donald Trump in Iowa and national polls. And it’s obvious from news coverage this week that The Donald doesn’t like to be No. 2 to anyone. Carson didn’t factor much in the first two debates, but there is no doubt that he’ll be front and center tonight with a target on him.
2) The Establishment Strikes Back
For several polling cycles now outsider candidates like Trump, Carson and Carly Fiorina have accounted for nearly or more than half of the votes and tonight some of the establishment candidates might try to take them on. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said yesterday, “I want you to know that I’m fed up. I’m sick and tired of listening to this nonsense.” He took on some comments made by Carson and Trump. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is also likely to go after the front-runners to re-energize his campaign. He recently announced pay cuts to his campaign team.
3) Rubio gets more attention
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is third or fourth in most national polls and may look to move up tonight. Steve Peoples of the Associated Press says “no one is better positioned to benefit from Bush’s struggles than his Florida protege, Marco Rubio.” If you look at what’s happening in the U.S. House, you might see a similar situation between Rubio and Paul Walker, the next speaker. Both are young, viewed as the future of the party, and tea party members and more conservative voters can stomach them. They may not be their first choice, but they might be the strongest option.
4) Huckabee, Cruz, Paul and Christie look for a way in
Carson’s numbers have bruised Trump a bit. That may light a fire under some of the other candidates realizing that the front-runner is vulnerable. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are both liked by religious conservatives and may look for ways to stand out. Huckabee had some of the most memorable lines from the first Fox News debate and may look to get some attention. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is currently making news threatening to filibuster the debt-ceiling deal. He could also go after Trump tonight. Christie, considered one of the more liberal of the bunch, might bring out some of that New Jersey toughness to stay in the race. One thing to keep note of is that the Fox Business debate coming up next month is going to require the candidates on stage poll above 2.5 percent. Some of these guys are very close and if they fall below it they won’t be on stage for the next one.
5) Can anyone from the second-tier move up?
Carly Fiorina’s performance in the first undercard debate in August propelled her in the polls and the main stage for the next two debates. Can any of the others try the same thing? Look for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former New York Gov. George Pataki, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to make another effort to get noticed and gain some traction. Graham in particular has been critical of the Trump and Carson recently. On MSNBC this week Graham said: “On our side, you’ve got the No. 2 guy [saying he] tried to kill someone at 14 and the No. 1 is high energy and crazy as hell. How am I losing to these people?”