Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have been given podiums for Saturday’s CBS News GOP debate. No musical-chairs competition here, what with Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie having dropped out after their disappointing finishes in the New Hampshire primary this week. It’s the final debate setting for the New Hampshire survivors before the South Carolina primary February 20.
Face the Nation anchor and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson will moderate again; he got rave reviews for his wrangling of the second Dem debate of this election cycle, in the wake of the ISIS attacks on Paris. He’ll be joined by CBS News’ Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett and the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel. Debate will be staged at Peace Center in Greenville, S.C. where the Faith and Family presidential forum is being held today (the Conservative Leadership Project says Bush, Carson, Cruz and Rubio are expected to attend).
A lot has happened since the candidates last took swings at each other onstage. Bush celebrated a birthday. Trump called Cruz a liar. Trump said this:
Trump also swore off swearing, after TV news networks interviewed South Carolinians who said they might not vote for him because of his potty mouth — and his lack of credible religiosity. On that topic, Trump blasted Pope Francis as a “very political person” because he’s visiting Mexico this weekend with plans to celebrate Mass at the U.S. border.
Also, Smear Ad Season officially began, though Cruz stumbled out of the gate when he had to pull a TV commercial called “Conservatives Anonymous“ because word got out one of the actors’ resume includes Kinky Sex Club, Milf, Carnal Wishes and Sex Sent Me to the E. On the bright side, it triggered an interesting conversation this morning on MSNBC, in which a bunch of men explained to Mika Brzezinski – because she asked – the difference between soft and hard-core.
Cruz’s campaign also put out its new ad about Trump:
And Cruz this morning unveiled a new anti-Hillary Clinton ad: