Four Floridians to watch in tonight’s GOP presidential debate

bush carson rubio trumpSure, the PostOnPolitics blog is Florida-centric.

But so is the 2016 Republican presidential race.

Three Florida residents and part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump will command much of the attention in tonight’s third GOP debate from Colorado on CNBC.

You can check out our debate live chat here.

For those not watching the World Series tonight, here are some things to watch from Florida’s Republican contenders, in alphabetical order:

** Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor began the race as the establishment favorite, but has slipped in the polls — even plunging to single digits in his home state in one recent survey. Last week, the Bush campaign slashed staff and reduced salaries after weaker-than-expected fundraising. After two solid but not memorable debate performances and months of ridicule from Trump about being “low energy,” there’s pressure on Bush to reassure the GOP establishment and donor base by appearing strong and perhaps even “joyful.”

** Ben Carson: The West Palm Beach resident has risen steadily in the polls and even surpassed Trump in one survey this week. He’ll likely get more attention from Trump and more scrutiny from CNBC moderators tonight. Don’t be surprised if the other GOP candidates lay off, however, because Republican voters clearly like Carson. Tonight those Carson fans will get an extended chance to confirm or second-guess their feelings.

** Marco Rubio: Rubio has moved ahead of mentor Bush in most polls and is vying to become the clear leader in the GOP’s establishment primary to determine the leading alternative to political outsiders Trump and Carson. Rubio has generally avoided clashes with Trump, Bush and other rivals. But his Senate absenteeism has come under fire from Democrats and Republicans alike and will likely come up tonight.

** Donald Trump: He has defied the laws of political gravity for four months, so blog posts suggesting what he needs to do or what to expect from him should be taken with a 44-pound bag of salt.  Talking about his polling success has been a major part of Trump’s campaign so far, so it’ll be interesting to see how he interacts with Carson now that Carson has moved ahead of Trump in recent Iowa polls and is getting closer in national polls.

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