What to Look for in Tonight’s GOP Debates

The Hanging Shad will be live tweeting (@TheHangingShad) during both forums—the losers’ bracket at 6 p.m. and the main draw at 8 p.m. Each candidate has something to gain and much to lose. Also, this the Spinal Tap Debate–this one goes to 11 (candidates). Here’s The Shad’s take:

Be sure to watch the physical machinations tonight. The podiums are only 20 inches apart. That means someone tall like Jeb Bush (6’3”) or Trump (6’2”) and someone, well, large like Chris Cristie or Mike Huckabee could actually make physical contact with their neighbor just by gesturing. Potential fun, eh?

Donald Trump. This may be the night the Teflon Don(ald) get his comeuppance. It may seem unlikely, but eventually he will have to talk specifics. Yesterday, Trump’s camp previewed The Donald’s speech on the USS Iowa as “a major address on national security.” It was 13 minutes lone and contained no specifics. As the Washington Post noted, Trump said, “We’re gonna make our military SO big and SO strong and SO great and it will be SO powerful that I don’t think we’re ever going to have to use it.” Genius!

Ben Carson. Will he take some heat? Trump takes a lot of heat for no specifics but Carson doesn’t have much beef either. Carson is now within the margin of error to Trump in the last New Hampshire poll. Hey, this isn’t brain surgery.

Carly Fiorina. Is she ready to jump ugly with the boys? It doesn’t help that Hewlett-Packard, the company of which Fiorina was CEO, announced today they are laying off another 30,000 workers. She might get a question on that given the fact that she axed 30,000 jobs before she was fired.

Jeb Bush. It won’t be a make-or-break night for Bush because he has $100 million stacked up by his super pacs. He dwarfs all others in fundraising. He would do well to be active in the debate, ya know, high-energy.

Rand Paul. He should go away. He can’t win and he either knows it or should know it.

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Chris Christie. Look for the big guy to come out swinging like David Ortiz chasing 500 HRs. He needs exposure and he’s been laying the groundwork in recent interviews for a pugilistic night.

Mike Huckabee. This guy is a disgrace. He tried and succeeded in getting media face time by setting up a rally for cra-cra Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. Hey Mike, a full 63 percent of the American public thinks the Misery (Kathy Bates) look-a-like should issue marriage licenses equally and not by the gender makeup of the couple.

Ted Cruz. See Mike Huckabee above except that he couldn’t even push his way on the stage at the Huckabee-Adams rally.

John Kasich. He is in third place in New Hampshire due mostly due to TV ad buys. But the Ohio governor is the most moderate, experienced and measured candidate in the race. He’d swamp Hillary. And he is from a big, swing state. No Republican has won the White House in modern times without winning Ohio.

Marco Rubio. The Florida US Senator needs a breakout night. He has specifics, youthful energy and money. Yet he still fails to get much traction.

Scott Walker. Dear Gov. Walker, Please take your cheesehead and go join Rick Perry on the golf course. Love, The Shad. The one-time favorite in Iowa is toast.

The moderators: Let’s not forget conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt is one of the questioners—a strange choice indeed. Hewitt was the guy who Trump called, “A third-rate radio host” after Hewitt stumped Trump with foreign policy questions. He did the same to Carson only Carson didn’t throw a temper tantrum.

Watch for Jake Tapper’s questions to be designed to cause a fight between candidates, not between a candidate and a questioner ala Trump v. Megyn Kelly on Fox News’ debate.

As far as the so-called “Happy Hour” debate, the only way this forum interesting is if the four candidates actually attended a real happy hour before the debate. No. One. Cares. .