Posted: 12:55 am Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
By Jamie Dupree
From Simi Valley, California –
As fifteen Republican candidates for President gather here at the Ronald Reagan Library, the big strategy question for GOP hopefuls is simple – what is the best approach to crack the grip that Donald Trump has had on the race for the Republican nomination.
In this debate, eleven Republicans will be on the main stage, as Carly Fiorina jumped from the lower tier forum; many think she will lead the charge against Trump.
“I think Donald Trump is an entertainer,” Fiorina told reporters over the weekend. “And I think I am a leader.”
But Fiorina also told reporters that she wants to use her time to introduce herself to voters – and therein lies the challenge for those chasing Trump – they can attack the GOP front runner and risk being smacked down, or try to just focus on their own record, and maybe get little press coverage.
Trump acknowledged this week that he knows he will be in the cross hairs for many on Wednesday evening.
“I hear they’re all going after me,” Trump said with an air of mock concern during a huge Monday night rally in Dallas.
“Whatever,” he added with a dismissive tone. “What-ever.”
Trump did not arrive quietly in southern California, as he hosted a big rally on the battleship U.S.S. Iowa, again making the case that he offers voters the best chance at real change in Washington, D.C.
“We have no leadership whatsoever,” Trump said to the cheering crowd, as he made clear he’s not worried by his GOP debate opponents.
“I’m fighting some very nice people,” Trump said. “They just don’t have it; it’s going to be more of the same.”
Another two part debate
As with the first debate in Cleveland in early August, the Republican field has been divided – first, a group of four Republicans, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham will get time in the pre-debate forum.
Only Santorum has registered at more than 1 percent in a recent national poll.
Starting at 8 pm ET, eleven Republicans will be on the main debate stage: Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Fiorina, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Chris Christie.
“I don’t like the fact that there are eleven people now,” Trump told reporters earlier this month.
“Because when you have eleven, you are not going to hear me and you’re not going to hear other people talking,” Trump said.
Trump was the only candidate to speak for more than ten minutes in the first debate.