What to Look For in a Republican Debate Without Donald Trump

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A Secret Service representative legalised a theatre before Donald J. Trump spoke during a discuss eventuality in Norwalk, Iowa, final week.

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Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

The doubt of what a Republican discuss competence demeanour like though Donald J. Trump has loomed over a initial 6 contests. It will be answered when a possibilities take a theatre on Thursday during 9 p.m. Eastern time. We asked New York Times domestic reporters what they would be looking for in a Trumpless forum, a final discuss before Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

This tighten to an election, debates fundamentally turn forums for a trailing possibilities to conflict those during a tip of a polls. There are dual possibilities who are approaching to come underneath a many fire.

I’ll be extraordinary to see who will take a brunt of a attacks, Ted Cruz or Mr. Trump. Mr. Cruz can be approaching to aim Mr. Trump, regardless of either he is present. But that of a dual leaders in Iowa a rest of a margin chooses to concentration on could go a prolonged approach in revelation us who they consider is in a stronger position going into a final weekend before Iowa.

— Jonathan Martin

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Mr. Trump will not be a usually aim of Republicans who is not on a discuss theatre on Thursday. All of a possibilities will be auditioning to infer that they are best matched to take on Hillary Clinton.

The final thing she needs 4 days before a caucuses is a theatre full of Republicans criticizing her and sketch adverse contrasts for Democrats and independents. On Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton joked that being targeted by Republicans was “perversely flattering.”

— Amy Chozick

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Mr. Cruz took on all comers as a college-debate champion. But can he outwit an invisible man? If Mr. Trump goes by with his oath to skip a debate, demeanour for Mr. Cruz to make a dusk a referendum on his choice, creation a box again and again that Mr. Trump has shown disregard to a Iowans whose votes he is seeking.

— Matt Flegenheimer

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I will be profitable tighten courtesy to a male on a theatre who is not famous for his debating skills: Jeb Bush. If Mr. Bush hopes to get a second demeanour from electorate (in Iowa though also New Hampshire), he could use a dermatitis moment.

Mr. Bush has shown that he is gentle aggressive Mr. Trump, though if a billionaire businessman boycotts a debate, as promised, it is misleading either Mr. Bush will be as comfortable, or capable, of delivering a blow to his other rivals.

Ashley Parker

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Trump or no Trump, a concentration will be as most on a Fox News moderators as it will be on a candidates. With a accusations flung from a Trump campaign, viewers, if not candidates, will be parsing a questions, sport for glimmers of bias. With this in mind, design a moderators — Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace — to be unusually prepared and approach in their questioning.

— Nick Corasaniti

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In a deficiency of Mr. Trump onstage, who can lift his layer of devil-may-care true talk? In truth, substantially no one. But a best shot belongs to Chris Christie and Mr. Cruz. Watch for them to try, maybe too hard, to possess a night.

— Michael Barbaro

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If Mr. Trump’s participation sucked a atmosphere out of past debates, what will fill a opening this time? Look for a possibilities seeking to interest to establishment-aligned electorate to make attacks that relate a ads a “super PACs” ancillary them are fixation on a airwaves: Marco Rubio on Mr. Bush, Mr. Bush on Mr. Christie, John R. Kasich on Mr. Rubio, and each movement in between.

— Nicholas Confessore

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Can Ben Carson make an impression? He has nonetheless to accomplish that attainment in a Republican debates. But with his candidacy hinging on a clever arrangement in Iowa, this could be his final possibility to make his representation to a vast series of voters. The late neurosurgeon has been study taxation policy, cybersecurity and unfamiliar policy. Thursday night might be his final event to put that believe on display.

— Alan Rappeport

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Asked on Wednesday night what he suspicion a outcome of Mr. Trump’s deficiency would be, Mr. Kasich — not a standout performer in a debates so distant — gave a elementary answer: “Probably some-more time for all of us.”

Mr. Kasich is counting on a clever arrangement in New Hampshire to mortar his candidacy into a spotlight, so how he uses that time will matter. Will a candidate, whose ease appearance has kept him from rising above a pointy tinge of prior face-offs, have a improved possibility of being listened though Mr. Trump onstage?

— Thomas Kaplan

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Does Mr. Kasich still get a giveaway pass?

The Ohio administrator has drawn meagre critique from his opponents so far, with a occasional difference of Mr. Trump. But Mr. Kasich’s polling numbers have risen newly in New Hampshire, where he has insistently wooed some-more assuage Republican voters. With a parsimonious competition there among a establishment-friendly candidates, rivals like Mr. Christie and Mr. Rubio might not concede Mr. Kasich to broach his summary again unchallenged.

— Alexander Burns