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Everything You Need to Know About Thursday’s GOP Debate

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The tenth (tenth!) Republican primary debate will be held on Thursday, February 25, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time. The event will take place at the University of Houston, hosted by CNN and Telemundo. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will moderate, with Hugh Hewitt, Dana Bash, and Telemundo’s Maria Celeste Arras contributing questions. Follow along with New Republic Minutes for live updates and analysis.

After a weak showing in the South Carolina primary led Jeb Bush to suspend his campaign, the Republican field is now down to five candidates: Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and John Kasich.

This is the final debate before the Super Tuesday primaries, which Trump is expected to dominate. He’s coming off a strong win in the Nevada caucuses, where he secured 46 percent of the vote. That victory was preceded by two others, in South Carolina and New Hampshire, and a near-win in Iowa.

The race for second between Cruz and Rubio remains tight, and while a rising chorus says it’s time for them to start aggressively attacking Trump, there’s also reason for them to lay off. Making it to a one-on-one showdown with Trump could be the best opportunity for one of the senators to surpass him, though the possibility of that happening is looking more and more unlikely. 

Cruz’s home field advantage in Texas could give him a boost; he currently holds a small lead in the polls over Trump in the state. You can also expect to hear a lot about immigration at the debate: This is where Trump promises to build a border wall, after all.

To bring you up to speed, here’s what New Republic writers have been saying about the candidates since the last debate:

Donald Trump

After Trump’s win in the Nevada caucuses, the GOP’s denial about Trump needs to break, wrote Brian Beutler, though it probably won’t. Trump’s success is due in large part to the Republican Party’s Southern Strategy, explained Jeet Heer. Heer also showed how the mogul has fashioned himself after comic book superheroes. Regardless, Trump could never beat Hillary Clinton in a general election... or could he, Ryu Spaeth wondered. Also, his wife speaks. Also, he loves the poorly educated. Also, he might kill someone.

Marco Rubio

Despite what his super PAC wants you to think, Rubio is no Harry Potter, said Alex Shephard. Even with the support of the GOP establishment, he is having trouble winning anywhere, Beutler noted. He tried to recreate Ronald Reagan’s classic “Morning in America” ad, but failed miserably, wrote Laura Reston. Now Trump is implying that, like Cruz, Rubio’s also not eligible to be president. Basically, the senator from Florida is in exquisite denial, concluded Spaeth.

Ted Cruz

Cruz’s loss of the evangelical vote could spell disaster for his campaign, wrote Elizabeth Bruenig. Jacob Bronsther compared the success of Cruz’s appeal (and Trump’s) to that of radical Islam. And while he got third place in South Carolina, Cruz still managed to give a victory speech, wrote Shephard.

In other news...

Somehow, Ben Carson and John Kasich outlasted Jeb Bush. And no one actually wants to vote for Michael Bloomberg.