|The 10 who made the cut for the primetime debate|
Los Angeles, CA - Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum are going to mass. Afterwards Jeb intends to do a workout at a gym, and then shoot off a few emails. Guitarist Mike Huckabee is going to a Rock and Roll Museum. Scott Walker is going to the fair to loosen up, Ted Cruz is spending private time with his family, and Chris Christi is holding a big dinner with his team. All of this ahead of tonight’s 9:00 PM (ET) first GOP Debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Some of the candidates, like Jeb Bush, have no doubt been practicing over and over and over again. But others have a different strategy, Donald Trump saying he is totally unconcerned, and not really getting ready. Dr. Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon, said he is not nervous; after all, it won’t be as bad as brain surgery, he joked.
While it might not be as bad, it certainly must be nerve racking for those candidates who have never been on a national and indeed an international stage such as will be set tonight for the first debate of the GOP Primary season. Some estimates, (probably exaggerated) put possible viewership this evening at around ten million people. Even if it were half of that, there will still be millions of people watching, critiquing, at criticizing every move everyone on the stage makes.
Some candidates, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, have much to lose, as those three continue to poll highest. Others, like John Kasich, whose home state the debate will take place in, have nothing to lose. Kasich is a deep underdog, and indeed he only got into the debate by the skin of his teeth. He can come and go wild, hoping something happens.
There are several subtleties that will be watched for in the debate. One is whether or not Ted Cruz will actually attack Donald Trump. The senator from Texas and the billionaire have yet to go at it, and indeed Cruz is one of the last members of the field not to sharply criticize Trump.
Another thing that will be interesting is if whether any of the candidates say anything of substance that is majorly different from the others on the stage at it this point. It’s early on, but it will be interesting to see the candidates, especially those who are as ideologically close as the three senators Paul, Cruz, and Rubio, make distinction between themselves, and use other than vague language.
There are several questions you can expect the candidates will be asked. Among them will probably be something about how they would defeat ISIS, what is their stance on gay marriage, what they think about abortion, and probably a question about immigration. But this is a television broadcast, made to get and keep viewers, and to make money, so you can expect the moderators to do everything in their power to get the candidates to go at each other. Screaming and name calling makes great television, after all. Just ask Donald Trump over at the Celebrity Apprentice.
But the candidates do need to be careful this evening, when they attack Trump. Every time they do that, he gets more time to respond, and if they all go after him, his time could begin to grow very rapidly.
There have been some explosive debates in recent years; indeed, the 2011 GOP Primary cycle saw more than one blowup, with Rick Perry and Mitt Romney shouting at each other, Romney eventually putting his hand on Perry’s shoulder. There was the time the buzzer went off and Santorum said “they caught you not telling the truth, Ron (Paul).” There was some other fireworks involving Rick Perry and government agencies, but I don’t remember what it was.
A brain surgeon, three senators, a billionaire, and five governors. All on one stage. That is a lot of power, a lot of opinion, a lot of money, and a lot of hubris. They all want to be president, command the biggest and most powerful army in the world, they all want to lead the planet’s largest economy, and they all think they can do it better than anybody else. And the American voter has the most complicated and difficult job, perhaps in world history. We have to decide which one to hire.
Andrew C. Abbott