In tonight's debate, it's Trump vs. the world

Campaign 2016
by Kent Covington & Nick Eicher
Posted 9/16/15, 11:45 am

The staff of The World and Everything in It has profiled 22 possible 2016 presidential candidates in its “White House Wednesday” series. Now they take a look at who’s ahead and who’s making moves as the primaries get closer.

As Republican presidential candidates run through last-minute debate prep, a new national CBS/New York Times poll places Dr. Ben Carson in a virtual first-place tie with Donald Trump. The bombastic businessman remains a few points ahead, but that’s within the margin of error. And the rest of the field is way down in single digits.

The second set of debates in the 2016 election cycle airs tonight on the Salem Radio Network and CNN. The 8 p.m. EDT debate features the top 11 candidates, following the 6 p.m. face-off among the rest of the field. 

The 11th candidate in the primetime gathering is former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who joins the top 10 from last month’s primetime debate. 

Two voices from the last round will not be heard in the earlier debate. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore failed to cross the minimum threshold in national polls, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry withdrew from the race last week. The remaining four candidates in the early debate are Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former New York Gov. George Pataki, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Some of them don’t have the backing or resources to stick it out long-term if they don’t pick up momentum soon. 

In the primetime debate, Trump has promised viewership will be record-setting for CNN. Trump explained his domination of the political airwaves yesterday to a crowd in Dallas. 

“It’s a very simple formula in entertainment and television. If you get good ratings—and these aren’t good, they’re monster— then you’re going be on all the time, even if you have nothing to say,” he said.

Fiorina was the standout in the last early debate, and many are looking forward to seeing her square off with Trump. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been going at Trump on the campaign trail, but Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is staying above the fray. 

Other candidates, whether they admit it or not, need a big moment tonight. Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey are fading to the back of the pack, as is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. This is an important debate for them and others who are just scraping by in the polls right now. 

The race to this point has been largely about personality. Expect tonight to see Trump pressed more about his record of making left-of-center political statements and how he plans to fulfill some of the huge promises he has made.

Listen to “White House Wednesday” on The World and Everything in It.

Nick Eicher

Nick lives in St. Louis, loves the Blues (as in the NHL), is executive producer of WORLD Radio, and co-hosts WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickEicher.

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