Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What to Watch for in Saturday's Republican Debate

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What to Watch for in Saturday's Republican Debate

Article excerpt

As the Republican candidates careen towards the South Carolina primary on Feb. 20, expect immigration and infighting to take center stage.

With one state in the bag each, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and business mogul Donald Trump are each looking for a second primary win coming into Saturday's debate on CBS at 8 p.m. Eastern. Both candidates have started to go mean as their rivalry intensifies, and viewers are likely to see that come out during the debate.

Mr. Cruz beat Mr. Trump in Iowa by a narrow margin - just over three percent. Trump sailed to victory in New Hampshire with about 67,000 more votes than Cruz.

With Real Clear Politics reporting that Trump is polling an average of 17 points ahead of Cruz heading into the South Carolina primary, expect each to go after the other.

The two have been exchanging insults over the airways in a possible preview of the debate. One Cruz ad referred to Trump's "pattern of sleaze."

Trump threatened to sue Cruz in return, tweeting that if Cruz, "doesn't clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen."

If @TedCruz doesn't clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen.-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2016

Cruz doesn't seem shaken. When asked about the threat, Politico reports that Cruz's response was calm and collected. "There's more than a little irony in Donald accusing anybody of being nasty," said Cruz, "given the amazing torrent of insults and obscenities that come out of his mouth on any given day."

Cruz is likely referring to Trump's use of female anatomical invective to describe Cruz earlier this week in New Hampshire. Some observers speculated that Trump's dirty language could cost him votes in South Carolina, which is not only highly religious, but has also recently been ranked as one of the most polite states in the nation. Others observed that Trump's outspokenness is part of his "authenticity" brand.

Other candidates, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have been taking digs at Trump's potty mouth, leading Trump to promise to keep it cleaner in the future.

Debate viewers can also expect to see a counterattack from the Cruz campaign that focuses on the issues that keep South Carolinians up at night, issues that Cruz says Trump has not always taken a conservative view on.

Politico reports that Cruz plans to present himself during the debate as a Trump alternative for those who feel that Trump has a less than solid record on issues like abortion and health care.

Meanwhile, Senator Rubio will attempt to stage a comeback. He has already commented on Trump's language, remarking that he finds it inappropriate for his own young children. …

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