Showdown in Vegas: Trump, Cruz seek upper hand in crucial debate
Nine contenders will take the stage for the main clash on CNN, but the most intense focus will fall on two candidates: businessman Donald Trump, who has led the national polls for several months, and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), who is rising fast and has snatched the lead from Trump in Iowa.
Third-placed Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) will also be hoping to consolidate his position as a candidate able to straddle the GOP’s conservative-establishment divide.
Meanwhile, middle-ranking contenders will be looking for a breakout moment to vault into the top-tier, while the candidates struggling for traction will seek to avoid the fate of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who, for the first time, is relegated to the earlier “undercard” debate.