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Tags: gop | debate | trump | expect

10 Things to Expect When You're Not Expecting Trump: GOP Debate Guide

10 Things to Expect When You're Not Expecting Trump: GOP Debate Guide
Podiums stand empty prior to the start of a South Carolina Republican presidential debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, January 16, 2012. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 28 January 2016 10:36 AM

Donald Trump announced this week that he would skip Thursday's Fox News debate after the network refused to remove Megyn Kelly as co-host, leaving audiences wondering what to expect from a debate without the front-runner.

"He will not be participating in the Fox News debate and will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors," his campaign said in a Tuesday statement.

Gathered below are 10 things to expect Thursday night from a Trump-less debate.

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1. Cruz will be center stage
— Debate stages are usually arranged to put the candidates who are polling highest front and center. In Trump's absence, expect to see Ted Cruz front and center, with Marco Rubio flanking him.

2. There will not be an empty podium for Trump — "Fox News won’t have an empty lectern on its prime-time debate stage Thursday to represent Donald Trump’s absence," Republican National Committee chief strategist and spokesman Sean Spicer said Wednesday," Politico reported. "There will be no empty podiums just as we didn't do an empty podium with Rand Paul when he boycotted the Fox Business Network debate two weeks ago," a Fox News spokesperson further confirmed.

3. Trump will participate in an alternative event
— Trump will attend a charity event for veterans at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, at 8 p.m. local time, the same time as the Fox News debate. According to NPR, "the press release just said a 'Special Event to Benefit Veterans Organizations,'" and further details are yet to come.

4. Other candidates might not show up
— Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski claimed on Wednesday that other campaigns "asked us proactively" to participate in the veterans event, and added "it’s very possible" those candidates could skip the debate as well, ABC News reported. Additionally, Trump claimed on Twitter that "two candidates called last night and said they want to go to my event tonight at Drake University." Thus far, however, no other candidate has indicated that they'll skip it.

5. Audience numbers could dip — "On Greta, 87 percent of the people said they would not watch the debate if I'm not in it. Wow- what an honor!" Trump tweeted Wednesday night, referring to the Fox News show "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren." Others have also predicted that Fox News will not draw as many viewers without Trump, however it remains to be seen how far the total could dip. 

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6. The remaining debate candidates will gang up on Trump
— "By pulling himself out of the debate, Trump is giving the other candidates free rein to attack him — and unlike previous debates when Trump fought back — viewers will only hear one side of the story," wrote CNBC. "In crisis communications, you always want to correct the record where it is wrong otherwise people will believe it."

7. Trump could come out looking weaker — "Donald Trump’s announcement that he will boycott Thursday’s Fox News debate is a major strategic blunder — the first of his otherwise brilliant presidential campaign," wrote Marc A. Thiessen of The Washington Post. "Skipping the debate makes Trump look weak . . . how can Trump fight the Islamic State if he can’t handle a few tough questions from Megyn Kelly? If Trump does not show up, he won’t look tough — he’ll look like a big baby. He’ll look as though he is running from a fight." 

8. Trump could come out looking even strongerRush Limbaugh said Wednesday that, "Donald Trump knows that by not showing up, he's owning the entire event. Some guy not even present will end up owning the entire event, and the proof of that is Fox News last night. I have to tell you, folks, this is where this gets tough for me. I was stunned watching Fox News last night. Fox News was acting like they had been jilted at the altar." 

9. Cruz could steal Evangelicals back from Trump
— When it comes to the battle for the "souls of conservative white evangelical Christians," one opinion writer at Real Clear Politics asked, "Are they still motivated, as Cruz hopes, by traditional issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and religious liberty? . . . Or has Trump redefined social conservatism by returning to a harder form of backlash politics that shaped the late 1960s and early '70s?" With Trump unable to give a rebuttal, Cruz has the opportunity to make one final, direct pitch to Iowa voters before the caucus, and it could work to move some evangelical voters over to his side. 

10. Rubio, Bush, Kasich, Christie will continue battle for other voters — The so-called "establishment" candidates are not likely to win first place in Iowa, but could still scoop up some Iowa delegates by placing second, third, or fourth. Whichever of these four can place the highest will have the most momentum going into the New Hampshire primary, where they stand to win much bigger.

Vote Now: Which GOP Candidate Would You Support in 2016?

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TheWire
Donald Trump announced this week that he would skip Thursday's Fox News debate after the network refused to remove Megyn Kelly as co-host, leaving audiences wondering what to expect from a debate without the front-runner.
gop, debate, trump, expect
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2016-36-28
Thursday, 28 January 2016 10:36 AM
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