WASHINGTON—The top 10 Republican presidential contenders hold their third debate Wednesday in Boulder, Colorado. The debate will be broadcast by CNBC and the focus is expected to be on the top four candidates in the Republican field according to the latest national polls: real estate mogul Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Four recent polls in Iowa show Carson surging into a lead over Trump. And for the first time, Carson has taken a narrow lead over Trump in a new national survey. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows Carson with 26 percent among Republican primary voters with Trump in second place with 22 percent. It’s the first time that Trump is not in the lead since the Times/CBS poll began ranking the candidates in late July.
Bush under scrutiny
The stakes seem especially critical for Bush who recently slashed campaign spending after slipping further behind in national polls and surveys in key early voting-states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Bush was busy this past weekend trying to reassure wealthy campaign donors at a Houston retreat.
FILE – Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks during a Presidential candidate forum at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va, Oct, 23, 2015.
Wednesday’s prime-time debate will also feature former business executive Carly Fiorina, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
An earlier debate will also be held featuring four other contenders who did not make the top ten: Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former New York governor George Pataki and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore did not qualify for the earlier debate because he is below one percent in the polls.
The shrinking Democratic field
The size of the Republican field is a major contrast with the Democratic race where only three contenders remain: former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley. Two Democrats dropped out last week, former Virginia senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee.
Vice President Joe Biden also took himself out of the 2016 race, giving Clinton a boost that has helped re-establish her as the clear Democratic frontrunner. Clinton also helped herself with her strong appearance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi and a crisp debate performance the previous week.