The Republican Presidential Candidates debate tonight in California – all 16 of them.
But the focus will be on the top 11 — and their frontrunner, Donald Trump.
It’s been over a month since these candidates saw each other face to face. A lot’s happened since then. Carson surged. Bush tanked. Fiorina broke into the big leagues… And Donald Trump became the party’s undisputed leader.
The Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California is set for tonight’s debate. “I think that we are going to see Trump show number two,” said Republican Strategist: Mercedes Schlapp.
Donald Trump heads into tonight’s debate a solid number one in the polls. “People are not silent. They’re disgusted with our incompetent politicians,” said Donald Trump, (R) Presidential Candidate.
Another non-politician – Dr. Ben Carson – takes the number two spot on stage.
Tonight is a test for Jeb Bush, now languishing at six percent.
Republican strategists say he needs to take on Trump without crossing the line. “Governor Bush needs to be able to take the fight to Trump aggressively[.] He’s almost going to have to make fun of Donald Trump,” said Republican Strategist, Sara Fagen.
“If someone comes at me, bam! I’ll come back at ’em. Don’t worry about that,” said Jeb Bush, (R) Presidential Candidate.
Tonight could be an opportunity for Carly Fiorina, who fought her way onto the main stage and seems ready to take on Trump. “She really has an opportunity to punch trump a little bit in his face but at the same time stand out as being a very strong outsider,” said Schlapp.
11 candidates… All hoping tonight will be their moment
Like last time, the five candidates who won’t be on the main stage have a separate debate two hours earlier.
Tracie Potts, NBC News.