What to Expect From GOP Debate Without Trump

USC Political Science Professor Robert Oldendick weighed in on what to expect during the GOP debate less than a week away from Iowa Caucuses

Columbia , S.C. (WOLO) — The stage is set for the Iowa GOP debate Thursday night where 7 top tier candidates will battle it out on several issues. However,  missing from the line-up, front-runner Donald Trump who announced earlier this week he is boycotting the debate after a feud with moderator Megyn Kelly and Fox News.

“I get on stage a number of months ago for the 1st debate, I had no idea, I got a very unfair question from somebody that we don’t even talk about, I refuse to talk about that,” said Trump.
The decision was made less than a week away from the Iowa caucuses, where Trump holds a steady lead in the polls. Whether or not his decision to stay out of the debate will affect results in Iowa remains a big question.
“I think ultimately there’s a small amount of risk in that he’s not gonna be on the stage so it gives the other candidates an opportunity to kind of attack him and him not respond but given the balance of power at this point it’s another savy move on his part,” explained Robert Oldendick, Political Science Professor at USC.
Oldendick said the first 20 minutes of the debate will set the tone. Will Trumps absence dominate the conversation? or will moderators and candidates focus on real issues that can help them distinguish themselves?
“If it gets more to substance and how people contrast how they would attack the immigration problem or the economy or dealing with terrorism and what their record is then I think it provides them with an opportunity,” explained Oldendick.
Trailing Trump in a tight race between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Oldendick predicts the two will battle it out on the issue of immigration.
“I think that’s been the biggest division between them,” said Oldendick. “I think the past several debates it’s kind of been a standoff and neither one of them has been able to win, in fact, I think it’s kind of done the damage to both of them.”
As for Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Ben Carson, Oldendick says he predicts they will tailor their answers to voters beyond Iowa, in New Hampshire and other key states.
The GOP debate will air at 9pm Thursday night on Fox News.
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