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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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What to look for during the GOP Debate

GOP+Debate
Photo by Graphic by Sydney Farris
GOP Debate

Battalion news editor Sam King shares five things to watch for during the Thursday night Republican debate in Iowa.  The prime-time debate will take place at 8 p.m. Central Time on the Fox News Network.  A “happy-hour” debate between lower-polling candidates will take place at 6 p.m. Central Time. 

1. The elephant (not) in the room

The landslide front-runner Donald Trump surprised the country Tuesday with his announcement that he would not be participating in Thursday’s debate, citing his problems with debate-host Fox Network. This sudden announcement says a lot about Trump’s confidence in his polling, and may even be a page out of Rand Paul’s book, as the candidate saw a rise in his numbers following a decision to skip the last Republican debate. Trump is taking a risk and certainly opening himself up to criticism from his fellow party members and the country, but that’s never stopped him before -— and may very well lead to an even further spike in his numbers. 

2. Last ditch efforts

 

This debate is the final chance for many candidates to gain a following worth anything where the primaries are concerned. With Iowa only a weekend away, the ball will truly get rolling. For lower-polling candidates like Rand Paul and Chris Christie, this could be a final bow of sorts, a “nothing-to-lose” kind of attitude. Although their poll numbers may be low, tensions are high.

3. Rubio vs. Cruz

While press has largely covered the tension between Trump and Cruz as the feud to watch, with Trump absent on Thursday, the front-runners on stage will be Marco Rubio (9.5 percent) and Ted Cruz (17.6 percent). Rubio has exhibited more aggressive campaign strategies in the past few debates and on the trail, which will likely be a theme he follows for the debate too.

4. Republicans feeling the Bern

At the start of the debate season back in August, the self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders was well behind front-runner Hillary Clinton, posing no threat and rarely crossing Republican minds, let alone their lips. Now Sanders has gained in the polls where Clinton has lost, with only about 15 points between the two, according to The Huffington Post. Sanders has become a much more tangible threat to Republicans and will likely be brought up at some point during Thursday’s debate. 

5. Stricter moderators

The timing of this debate and the drama surrounding it will likely lead to moderators wanting to steer the conversation to policy and the candidates who are on stage, rather than dwell on Trump’s absence. Fox faced criticism at the last debate they hosted for not enforcing the rules and for letting the candidates pander. While many of the candidates seem pleased at the businessman’s absence, the moderators — Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly — will still have to work to keep control of them. 

 

 

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