The Republican candidates are back at it Tuesday night, with the undercard debate starting at 7pm Eastern and the main event at 9pm on the Fox Business Network. Here's a look at some key things to watch:
- Ben Carson a big target? Donald Trump has been taking potshots at Carson all week as questions have surfaced about the details of Carson's life story, suggesting that Trump—or others—might make him a key target tonight. "Carson would most likely respond by reprising his attacks on the news media, but many primary voters will be eager to see how he responds under a level of pressure he has not yet faced," observes the New York Times.
- All eyes on Jeb: All the previews point out that he can't afford yet another bad to mediocre debate performance and thus faces perhaps the biggest pressure of any candidate Tuesday night. Will he be aggressive or statesmanlike? He may have hinted at a new strategy: "It's not a debate. It's a chance to be able to say what you think. I'll take advantage of that."
- Debate alliance? Politico floats the possibility of Bush and Ted Cruz forming an unlikely alliance against Marco Rubio. The theory is that Rubio represents a big obstacle to both, Bush with the establishment vote and Cruz with the conservative base. Rubio's personal finances in particular could be a target.
- Christie stands out? He's been relegated to the undercard debate, but maybe that has a silver lining? It could give him a chance to clearly stand out for once as he goes up against Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum, notes CNN.
- Actual policy: Moderators at the last debate took lots of flak, at least from the candidates, for veering off the supposed topic of the economy. Given that this one is sponsored by the Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal, it could be a chance for the candidates to challenge each other on topics such as tax policy, jobs, and entitlement programs, notes USA Today.
(There's also speculation the debate moderators may try to sabotage some candidates