The fourth GOP debate airs tonight at 9 PM ET from Milwaukee. Reading left to right on tonight’s stage: John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul. The always-quotable but low-polling Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee last week got demoted to the kids-table debate, replacing Lindsey Graham and George Pataki, who are gone from tonight’s faceoffs altogether.
Fox Business Network, which is partnering with the Wall Street Journal on tonight’s debate, promised it won’t be a cage match like CNBC’s and will focus on jobs, taxes and the state of the economy. But the candidates have been sharpening their elbows to prepare. Rubio’s camp released this “campaign ad” anticipating that the Jeb Can Fix It camp again will try to argue that their guy’s unprepared for the Oval Office. Bush has a new debate coach, but CNN’s Jake Tapper this afternoon described this campaign strategy as “defibrillation.”
Meanwhile, Trump has called tonight’s clambake “the only debate in history where you’re better off if you stabbed somebody” — signaling that he’ll go after retired neurosurgeon Carson, whose personal narrative has been under the microscope since the last GOP debate. In a speech this week, Trump called it a “strange election” cycle in which “a lot of weird things are happening.” To repeat, that’s Donald Trump calling this election cycle “strange.”Here’s how we’re calling tonight’s action.