The first debate of Republican primary candidates is set to begin tonight at 9 PM Eastern Time, to be aired on the FOX News Channel (pre-show begins at 6 PM). The debate will be moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace. 10 Candidates will be participating, based on an average of five most recent polls. They are:
Real estate magnate Donald Trump
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
We’re predicting a very tentative debate at this point, unless the moderators can stir things up (which they would be smart to do). Since Mr. Trump has already said “don’t expect too much” we believe he will not come out swinging. The other candidates will likely not attack Mr. Trump directly since his responses are unpredictable and he seems to be able to win those exchanges. They will likely speak in an indirect fashion referring to Trump’s recent remarks regarding Mexico and other topics. Of course, Governor Christie will be animated as always, and Senator Cruz will hit the issues hard. The remainder will likely sit back, be reasonable and try to look Presidential.
Seven candidates who did not make the cut have been invited to a separate event at 5 PM Eastern Time. They are:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
Former HP head Carly Fiorina
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham
Former New York Gov. George Pataki
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
They are certainly worth watching, it seems to me Bill Clinton was at one time in the back of the pack, and some of these folks have the charisma to rise. If Trump and Bush should begin to falter, it could be anybody’s race.