GOP Debate: What to Watch for on Fox News Tonight

Donald Trump Fox News Voter Summit
Alex Menendez/REX Shutterstock

Just hours after the latest Republican debate ends on Fox News, Netflix will be posting the entire fourth season of “House of Cards.”

As Variety‘s Brian Lowry pointed out in his review, real-life presidential politics have caught up with “House of Cards,” giving the drama “a run for its money in sheer outlandishness.”

The last few days have been a binge-watch of the escalating civil war within the GOP, particularly on Thursday, as 2012 nominee Mitt Romney delivered a scathing takedown of very possible nominee Donald Trump.

That was followed by a response from Trump, who boasted that in the last cycle Romney was “begging” for his endorsement. “I could’ve said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees,’ and he would have dropped to his knees,” he said, in a line ready-made for retweeting.

Tonight’s debate in Detroit could mark a turning point in the effort to stop, slow or just stymie Trump’s march to the nomination. Or it could shed light on how Trump has outmaneuvered them all in his race for the White House and, like Frank Underwood, has yet to meet his political match.

Here are some key moments to watch for:

Megyn Kelly and Trump, the Next Chapter. This will be the first time that Trump will face Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, with whom he sparred at the very first GOP debate in August. It started when Kelly questioned him about his past comments about women, and Trump complained that her line of query was unfair. But that was only the start. Over the next six months, Trump erupted into grievance tweets about Kelly, culminating in his decision to skip a Fox News debate in Des Moines after the network refused to remove her as co-moderator. Trump went on to lose the Des Moines caucuses, and there has been little drama surrounding his appearance at this gathering. There’s every reason for Trump not to get into a tiff with Kelly, or for Kelly to avoid one. But what’s to stop rivals, determined to throw everything at the GOP front-runner to see if anything sticks, from dredging up Trump’s comments about the Fox News star?

Trump, presidential. As he racked up victories on Super Tuesday, Trump appeared before a row of American flags at his Mar-a-Lago estate and held a press conference. It wasn’t as stately as something that would happen in the East Room, but it was perhaps a preview that Trump would be a tad more subdued as a general election candidate. What tone will Trump take on Thursday? He’ll be the target of attacks from rivals, perhaps in a way we have yet to see, but he also will be appearing before what is expected to be a huge audience.

The audience. The most recent debates have seen a more active debate audience cheering and booing pretty much when they want. Trump has criticized the composition of the crowd as stacked against him, and that could be a factor again as the anti-Trump rhetoric has been amplified. Controlling the crowd may turn out to be just as important as controlling the candidates.

Mitt Romney. Given the coverage that Romney got for his blistering speech on Thursday, it’s difficult to see how it won’t get some mention. His father was the former governor of Michigan, and when Romney won the state in the GOP primary in 2012, it was a crucial victory. So it will be interesting to see if Trump, on the debate stage, gives any response to Romney in quite the same biting and ribald way that he did earlier on Thursday. It seems likely that Trump, as he has before, will not so much respond to Romney as he will dismiss him as a “failed candidate.” It actually may have new urgency with reports that Romney is plotting to take a significant role at the convention.

Rubio vs. Cruz. If Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz  tone down their attacks on each other, it’d give credence to reports that the stop-Trump effort has shifted to merely denying Trump a majority of delegates before the convention in July. In other words, as Bloomberg Politics reported, it’s actually a good thing for Rubio, Cruz and John Kasich to stay in the race and rack up wins in their own strongholds, rather than coalesce around one rival. Romney pretty much said that in his speech today.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 6

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Nancy Davidson says:

    Ok, I just saw on tv that Trump has 60% folks for him! Give me a break, I am saying -60%I dislike Trump, Cruz and maybe Rubio is ok! I hate the debate and am so disappointed with it. All of those people applauding at nothing is ugly to my ears.

  2. Ron L. says:

    Time to “un suspend” Jeb. Come back and bring some class.

  3. Brandon king says:

    This debate has been the biggest joke and so was the last. All thats happening is rubio attacking trump relentlessly because the republican head quarters told him to and also told rubio they would give him 25 million dollars if kicked out trump. These conversations don’t have anything to do with whats going on in the hardships of the country. Rubios commenting on Donalds manhood, what a joke.

  4. Judy Richter says:

    I am embarrassed to be a Rebublican and witness the horrible debate that was put on by Fox. The moderators had absolutely no control and allowed the three idiots to go after each other like little children. Shame on you for allowing this and not putting a stop to it being you are the moderators. You conservatives are going to hand once again the Presidency to the Democrats just like in 2012. I am a conservative and a Republican but am truly embarrassed by this. We need to be talking about the issues our country and how
    each would fix each and every issue not about Trump University. That has absolutely nothing to do with fixing our country and taking our country back from the Democrats who have done everything possible to be the ruination of this United States of America. Please take control and act like the professionals you profess to be.

  5. joe says:

    what happened to the fair and balanced-im waiting for megyn to go wash rubios feet——look at the questions she giving to cruz and trunp and her pandoring rubio

  6. frank lombardi says:

    I am sick of the politicians they have done nothing except spend spend spend. I trust only one person to run this country and that is the person that has the most invested into this country. All the others just want to line there pockets . Just look at history the 50 million dollar shrimp on the tread mill or the 5 thousand dollar hammer how about the gas station in iraq or the buildings they put up in iraq that were never used . Halliburton special interest donations. Every facet of our government is corrupt . I trust none of the politicians . TRUMP NOW !!!

More Biz News from Variety