5 Reasons Tonight's GOP Debate Could Get Crazy
There will be desperation in the air at the Reagan Library
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2015 4:10 AM CDT
Updated Sep 16, 2015 6:50 AM CDT
This time, they'll be joined by Carly Fiorina.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
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(Newser) – The second Republican debate is tonight and nobody—least of all host network CNN, which describes it as "Round 2 of a heavyweight bout"—is pretending it's going to be anything other than another episode of the Donald Trump Show. CNN is expecting a record audience for the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reports, and here are a few reasons why there could be more fireworks than in last month's debate:

  • Overcrowding. "We've never had this many candidates on one stage, standing this close together, for so long," and unlike the last debate, "candidates will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder and constantly on camera," writes Mike Allen at Politico, wondering who will be caught "looking awkward/embarrassed/mad while being attacked" and if any of the candidates will physically touch each other.
  • Attacks on Trump. The frontrunner says he'll be walking into a "lion's den," Voice of America reports, and while not all of the 10 people sharing a stage with him can be expected to go on the attack, some have probably been practicing anti-Trump lines for weeks. Rand Paul, for one, tells CNN that he plans to go on the offensive and that his pre-debate prep will be going "out shooting target practice in the morning." His target: the tax code.

  • Carly Fiorina. She's rising in the polls and moving to the main stage, and a lot of people are expecting a showdown tonight with Trump, who insulted her looks in a recent interview. "This is going to be a defining moment in Carly's career," Fiorina supporter Boris Feldman tells the New York Times. "What's selling tickets to this is the Trump-Carly card," he says. "Trump has a thing about anybody questioning him, but especially a woman."
  • Desperation. "These debates are increasingly life-and-death moments for candidates who started out as the presumptive frontrunners" but no longer "control their own destiny," including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker, GOP strategist Steve Schmidt tells CNN. Schmidt says only Ben Carson is currently in reach of beating Trump. Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich will also be scrambling to make an impression, and those who fail may not make it to the next debate.
  • Ronald Reagan. Reagan's legacy will loom large at the debate and candidates, including Trump, can probably expect to be asked why their position on immigration differs so much from that of Reagan, who granted amnesty to 2.7 million people. "How they handle that is very important," GOP pollster Frank Luntz tells USA Today. "Reagan was very much about America being a place where people can come and start a new life."