CNN has announced on Sunday its prime-time Republican debate lineup, arranging the podium in the order of the latest poll, with Donald Trump still at center stage of the nine candidates. On Trump’s right will be Dr. Ben Carson, who has been slipping badly and what the Wall Street Journal characterizes as “Carson Plummets,” the past couple of weeks. As terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., heightened attention to national security in the past month, Mr. Carson has stumbled on foreign policy questions, and critics have raised doubts about his mastery of international affairs.
On Trump’s left, and eying that center stage position, is Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. You can bet that Trump will be looking and listening leftward during the debate, as his “friend,” Ted Cruz, has been surging in the polls, reported the Des Moines Register. The Guardian reported that Trump called Cruz a ‘little bit of a maniac’ after falling behind in a couple of Iowa polls. In response, Cruz tweeted a video of the Flashdance song, “Maniac.” Cruz tweeted a link to the video: “@tedcruz In honor of my friend @realDonaldTrump and good-hearted #Maniacs everywhere.”
As we reported last month in the Examiner, Trump warned on CNBC to host Joe Kernen on “Squawk Box.” Trump told Kernan, “If he catches on, I guess we’ll have to go to war.” Trump says he finds Cruz “likeable enough” but might be forced to turn on him if necessary in order to survive.
The nine Republican candidates that will appear on Tuesday in prime-time for the final GOP presidential primary debate of 2015, are the following: Businessman Donald Trump; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on his right; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; businesswoman Carly Fiorina; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Four other GOP candidates — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki — will appear in the first debate on Tuesday evening, otherwise known as the “Kiddie Table.”
For Gov. Chris Christie, it is a return to the “Main Table” and away from the “Kiddie Table.” Christie has seen resurgence in recent weeks, particularly in New Hampshire. Paul, who was in danger of being removed from the main stage, was saved at the 11th hour by showing viability in Iowa in a Fox News poll released Sunday morning. However, Paul appears to still be in trouble. “In the light of new polling released this morning and in the spirit of being as inclusive as possible, CNN has decided to include Sen. Rand Paul in the prime-time debate,” a CNN spokeswoman said.
Wolf Blitzer will moderate the debate, with CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash joining Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt as questioners.