Trump-less debate, a test for the rest of the GOP pack

Last Updated: February 1, 2016
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gop debate without donald trump
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It’s almost sure that Thursday’s GOP debate will lack the presence of front-runner Donald Trump. But one question is on everybody’s lips: how will the seven remaining candidates cope with his absence? Will they jump at his neck or remain focused on their own goals and ideas?

It wasn’t a dull Republican nomination race until now. Donald Trump and the rest took care of it. But now, with the mogul’s absence in tonight’s GOP debate, what is there to come? Normally, with him on stage, fireworks would erupt.

Will it be 7 vs 1?

Now, the rest of the “pack”, seven Republican candidates, will have to decide: will they go after Trump and try to discredit the businessman or will they put forward their arguments on why they would be a perfect choice for the White House spot? Hard to tell, because Trump had everybody heated up in recent months.

Stuart Stevens, a top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, says that Trump’s absence will look “disrespectful for Iowa and New Hampshire voters who are trying to get a good look at the candidate”. He also suggested other candidates to go for a “Why vote for a man too frightened to show up for a fight?” plan. Trump’s prime rival, Ted Cruz, already began to impose this idea to his audience.

Trump is a scardey cat, says Cruz

“If Donald is afraid to defend his record, that speaks volumes. I promise you, Putin is a lot scarier than Megyn Kelly”, said Cruz on Tuesday, quoted by CNBC. The next day, the Texas Senator worked on the same idea: that Donald Trump is a scardey cat that doesn’t belong at the White House. “I’d like to hear Donald explain to the American people and to the people of Iowa how he is prepared to be commander-in-chief if he’s terrified by a television host”, said Ted Cruz in an appearance on Mark Levin’s radio show on Wednesday, according to MSNBC. Cruz also attempted some kind of humor when approaching the subject.

“Apparently, Megyn Kelly is really, really scary, and Donald is a fragile soul. If she asks him mean questions, I mean, his hair might stand on end.”, stated the Texas senator, according to The Washington Post. With Donald Trump bailing on the GOP debate, it is expected for Ted Cruz to stand his ground and be the leader of the “pack”.

“It would be wise for all to come prepared with a one-liner zinger to joke about Trump’s non-appearance. They need to make light of it.”, said Bradley Blakeman, a former senior adviser to George W. Bush, quoted by MSNBC. Blakeman claims that drowing more attention to Trump will only harm the candidates present on stage in Thursday’s GOP debate.

All candidates could say something about the front-runner’s absence

Seven candidates will attend the Fox News’ GOP debate on Thursday: Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Rand Paul. Probably all of them will have a few words to say about Trump’s decision to miss out on the debate, but no benefits will be obtain if they talk about the mogul all night.

Surely they’ll be more focused on their own business, trying to gain from Trump’s absence. What is quite interesting to see is if Ted Cruz can claim the role of the alpha-wolf. His statements and rise clearly show such possibility.

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