Watch the video: Donald Trump may be the surprise attraction at tomorrow's first GOP presidential forum, but will a different candidate emerge as the new rising star? We preview the much anticipated debate.
Voters will get a chance to see 10 of the 16 leading declared Republican presidential candidates square off Thursday in the first primary debate, which is hosted by Fox News and Facebook. Among them there will be five current or former governors, 3 U.S. Senators, a retired neurosurgeon and – arguably the main attraction – a billionaire reality TV show star and real estate mogul.
On Wednesday, Fox News announced the following candidates qualified to participate in the debate based on an average of the five most recent national polls: businessman Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; retired neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
To the delight of some and dismay of others, Trump leads in every recent Republican poll, and his loud and controversial presence has upended the Republican contest. But can the Donald survive past the first debate and what will the other candidates need to do or say to gain momentum?
Joining us to talk about the surge behind Trump's candidacy and what the crowded field of candidates means for the Republican Party are Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party who now works as a consultant with the lobbying and public relations firm Next Generation Public Affairs; Joe Walsh, a former Illinois Republican congressman who now hosts his own radio show on AM 560 The Answer; and Eric Elk, former chief of staff to Sen. Mark Kirk who has worked on a number of Republican campaigns. Elk now works for the political consulting firm Fulcrum Illinois.
Highlights from the discussion are below. Watch the video to hear all of the comments and questions.
On Donald Trump's candidacy
Pat Brady: I think the Donald is doing irreparable harm to the Republican Party right now, with the comments he's made. That allows our detractors or people that are against the Republican Party to paint [with] a broad brush and say, "Well, that's what they're all about." I'm hoping he's going to disappoint tomorrow night. I think it's the beginning of the end for him, and hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.
Joe Walsh: There's something really powerful going on. I don't know how long Trump will last, but the thing that's supporting Trump -- the anger that has Trump in the lead right now -- is real. Trump could win this thing.
Eric Elk: The problem is that [Trump] is not articulating anything that he wants to do. He doesn't even have an "issues" page on his website. He's out there saying salacious things, outrageous things, and tapping into that anger that Joe talked about. What does he stand for?
On Thursday's debate
PB: Tomorrow, even with the Donald up there, we're going to have one of the most diverse, youngest, energetic fields we've had in a long, long time. It's too bad Carly Fiorina's not up on the stage -- then we'd at least have a female representative up there. This is a very broad, young, diverse party and the Democrats are offering a throwback to the 1990s.
JW: The size of this crowd speaks volumes -- in a good way for the Republican Party. These candidates have got to figure out a way to stand out.