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3 questions ahead of the eighth Republican debate

As they take the stage, GOP hopefuls have roughly 72 hours before New Hampshire voters cast ballots in the state's primary. Here's what we're wondering ahead of the showdown. 

Is this going to be a circular firing squad?

You can think of reasons why each might want to attack any or all opponents. Look for Donald Trump and Ben Carson to attack Iowa winner Ted Cruz; Chris Christie and Jeb Bush to attack moderate-with-momentum Marco Rubio; and John Kasich -- well, shucks, it’s hard to imagine Kasich attacking anyone. The stakes in Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire are incredibly high; some people who have been campaigning for many months won’t be able to continue their campaigns if they don’t do well. So the desperation will be palpable.


Will Trump continue to brag about leading the polls?

Trump was considered the real loser in Iowa because so many polls showed him leading and he finished second. It is probably more likely that the polls couldn’t properly measure either turnout or support in that caucus state, but perception is reality, particularly in politics. Trump has been leading the polls in New Hampshire as well. Trump always likes to tout his standing in the polls, but does he really want to do that again? Or would it be better at this point to lower expectations?

How will the other candidates parlay the absence of Carly Fiorina? 

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is the only candidate left out in the cold by ABC's debate criteria after Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum called it quits following the Iowa caucuses. 

We expect remaining candidates to tsk-tsk ABC for the decision. Might network shaming be a ploy to win over Fiorina supporters? Hmmm.

The debate will air at 7 p.m. Central Time on ABC. That's channel 5 for AT&T U-Verse customers and channel 8 for Cox Cable subscribers in the Oklahoma City metro. It will stream on

Follow the madness live at See you there. 

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Juliana Keeping

Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award... Read more ›

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›