Tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC it will be the final debate on the GOP side before the New Hampshire primary and the event could be the most important debate ever for some of the candidates who need a good showing in the Granite State. The event will take place at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., and the ABC moderators will be World News Tonight anchor David Muir and anchor/reporter Martha Raddatz.
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The line-up looks like this with front runner Donald Trump, at center stage being flanked by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the big three coming out of Iowa. Joining that trio on stage will be neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Trump remains the leader in all the polls in New Hampshire, a state that as of the 2014 census had a population of around 1.3 million people. That would make the state the 9th largest city in the country behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and San Antonio.
Yet losing this first in the nation primary will likely spell the end to the presidential campaigns to at least one or two of the candidates. So here is what each candidate must do in tonight’s debate to keep any hopes alive of doing well Tuesday night in the first in the nation primary.
Trump – The front runner must attack both Cruz and Rubio. He is at his best when he plays offense and he must win in New Hampshire. So, he talks about all the key points that has kept him a top the polls, immigration, jobs, being strong militarily.
Cruz – He won in Iowa by courting the evangelical vote and while New Hampshire does have a strong religious right they are not enough to win the primary. Look for Cruz to push his strong opposition to pretty much everything in Washington from Planned Parenthood, the second amendment and Obamacare.
Rubio – He came out of Iowa the darling of the establish wing of the Republican Party but his lack of a record in the while serving as the freshman senator from Florida has made him a target. He will be attacked more than any other candidate on the stage tonight. For him to continue his momentum from his 3rd place finish he will have defend himself against his attackers.
Christie – At one point about a month ago it looked good for the New Jersey governor here in New Hampshire but he has slipped a bit. He will be brutal on Rubio, who he has called the “boy in the bubble,” because he has not accomplished anything in his eyes.
Bush – Like Christie look for Bush to spend most of his time attacking his former prodigy. He will attack Rubio’s lack of a record and tout his accomplishments as the governor of the 3rd largest state in the country.
Kasich – He has quietly moved up in the polls and could best Rubio in New Hampshire. Kasich has spent more time in New Hampshire than any other candidate and in a state where old school campaigning pays off big time the Ohio governor has the chance to be a real surprise in this primary. So, tonight he will likely stay out of the bash Rubio battle and continue to push his record in Congress and Ohio which is really traditionally voters in the state want to hear.
Dr. Carson – It is really going to be hard for the normally quiet man to score points in the debate tonight with all of the Rubio-Cruz-Bush-Christie and Trump bashing going on. He will have time to make his case to the voters but the key will come down to his ability to answer foreign policy questions that either help – or as in the past- hurt him tonight.
We will be tweet chatting tonight during the debate so join us at @NTFLA_Politics tonight on Twitter.