With all the candidates now fitting on to one stage, what should we look for in tonight’s debate:
1. Do Cruz and Bush continue to try to neutralize Trump? It would seem this is easier to do in South Carolina which, like New Hampshire, is conservative. But the Palmetto State is socially conservative with a good deal of evangelicals. That means Trump is vulnerable no matter what the polls say. Iowa proved that.
2. Will Rubio be ignored? Christie is no longer around to take it to him and Rubio is still smarting from the worst debate performance since Gerald Ford.
3. Will Kasich be more aggressive? He’s fresh off a strong second place finish in New Hampshire but he may have to tune up his “compassionate conservative” and show the bares knuckles.
4. How much time will the candidates spend on praising the recently departed Antonin Scalia from the Supreme Court? More interesting is how strongly they will promise to replace any conservative member of the with an equally dedicated right-winger.
5. Just how tame will Trump be? Chances are much more reserved. He’s already promised not to drop any f-, p-, or s-bombs. South Carolinians don’t dig that.