Pre-debate analysis of tonight’s GOP debate
There’s another GOP debate tonight, starting at 8:30 PM EST on CNN.
In the previous debate, I predicted that Trump would attack Rubio, but that didn’t happen. Instead Trump attacked Jeb Bush again, and while Jeb Bush was certainly hurt by the attack, it seems to me that the primary beneficiary of that exchange was Rubio and not Trump.
Once again, the best strategy for Trump is to take down Rubio in order to prevent Rubio from consolidating the anti-Trump vote. And Rubio is such a weak debater. Chris Christie was able to demolish Rubio in the New Hampshire debate. Surely Trump is just as capable of demolishing Rubio as Chris Christie?
I fear, however, that Trump is going to go after Cruz instead. Trump’s big ego wants to win Texas, and I think that Trump personally dislikes Cruz (as does everyone else who deals with him) while he doesn’t seem to have any special animosity for Rubio.
That would be a bad strategy if Trump does that. It’s not even clear that the best way to defeat Cruz in Texas is to demolish him in the debate. Cruz may have a floor in Texas that Trump won’t be able to stomp out, but the latest polls show him tied with Cruz, and by demolishing Rubio, Trump will probably pick up more of those votes than Cruz.
And in any event, if Trump wins every single Super Tuesday state except for Texas, which is a strong possibility, and almost guaranteed if Trump outperforms Rubio in tonight’s debate, Trump becomes unstoppable and the Republican party will be unable to consolidate around a single anti-Trump candidate. Cruz will say, with some validity, that he is the only candidate who can defeat Trump because he’s the only non-Trump candidate who won two states, and he has quite a few delegates from his Texas win, therefore it’s logical for Rubio to drop out and throw his support to Cruz. Of course Rubio would never do that. The Republican establishment would never encourage Rubio to do that because they hate Cruz. And everyone who is not Cruz, including Rubio, Trump, establishment Republicans, and the mainstream media, will say that Cruz’s victory in Texas is meaningless because it’s his home state and Cruz cannot win in any other state. And that’s true as long as Rubio is in the race with Cruz.