Tonight will be the fourth Republican presidential candidate debate. It will be in my old stomping grounds of Milwaukee and will be televised on the Fox Business Network, which is hosting the event, along with the Wall Street Journal. (If you have cut your cables, you can see it streamed for free here.) The show will run from 9:00 p.m. ET to 11:00 p.m ET.
Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee, both of whom have declined in the polls, will join Bobbie Jindal and Rick Santorum in the undercard at 7:00 p.m. ET. (Lindsay Graham has sunk so low in the polls he doesn’t even qualify for the undercard.) For more details, go here.
As is our custom, you can come to this blog to provide your own running color commentary on the debate as it unfolds. After the jump, some storylines to watch for.
(1) This time the moderators should be more sympathetic, with FBN anchors Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo and Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker asking the questions. They are also promising the candidates more time for their responses. Will these conservative panelists and these new arrangements make for a more or less interesting debate than the last time?
(2) Now the more conventionally qualified candidates have not only Donald Trump but also Ben Carson to contend with. Some polls have Carson passing Trump as front-runner. With this status comes more scrutiny, and the media has been putting out stories that Carson has falsely embellished his biography. Will the moderators and other candidates hit Carson hard on those accusations? What will Donald Trump do with Carson? How will Carson handle the controversy?
(3) Will Jeb Bush leave an impression? The former front-runner, hailed early as a sure thing in some circles, who had raised $100,000,000–far, far more than anyone else–has been floundering badly. The Bush family went so far as to call the clan together to discuss why Jeb is doing so poorly. Pretty much all of the candidates had a moment at the last debate, but not Bush. Will this time be different?
(5) Marco Rubio seems to be emerging as the leading conventionally qualified candidate (note that I am not saying “establishment,” since I’m not sure how applicable that is to anyone except for Bush). Ted Cruz has been jockeying for position with the Trump crowd, assuming that the tycoon fades once actual voting begins, and he has proven to be a better candidate than many people expected. Will this new debate clarify or change this pecking order?
(6) What about the issues? (Remember those?) Will any bright new policy ideas emerge out of this debate? Will immigration prove to be the make or break issue for the Republicans? Will hawks or doves prevail on foreign policy?
What are some other things to watch for?