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Hopefuls look to tighten grip in 4th GOP debate

The two persons to watch out for at Tuesday's television debate are Florida Senator Marco Rubio (above) and Texas Senator Ted Cruz (right) after their impressive performances in the last debate.

The two persons to watch out for at Tuesday's television debate are Florida Senator Marco Rubio (above) and Texas Senator Ted Cruz (right) after their impressive performances in the last debate.  

All eyes on Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

The Republican Presidential aspirants will face off in their fourth television debate on Tuesday in the hope of narrowing the race that remains muddled even as several of them appear struggling to stay in control of their narratives.

Two political neophytes, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and realty baron-cum-reality TV star Donald Trump, lead the race and commentators attribute this to resentment among Republican supporters towards its more entrenched leadership. Even as former Governor Jeb Bush appears slipping out of the race, eyes are set on Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz after their impressive performances in the last debate.

“Media doing a hit job” 

Persistent media scrutiny has provoked Mr. Carson to raise the pet Republican peeve -- alleged media bias -- to a higher pitch over the weekend, accusing the media of doing a “hit job.” As the reports picked holes in several claims he made about his early life, particularly about his transformation through Christian faith from a short-tempered teenage to a calm adulthood, Mr. Carson appeared losing it again. “There seems to be some desperation to find a scandal,” he screamed at reporters who questioned him on inconsistencies in his story. He later poked the media in a tweet: “We the People have made 10,000 donations each day this week, raising $3.5M this week alone. Thank you biased media.”

‘Simple questions, no answer’  

Mr. Trump is likely to target Mr. Carson in the debate. “These are simple questions that he is unable to answer,” a spokesperson of Trump campaign told a TV channel on Mr. Carson’s refusal to explain the contradictions. Mr Bush -- who has had to defend the legacy of his brother George W. Bush as President -- could face awkward moments if a recent biography of his father, who was also President of the U.S. comes up. The senior Bush says in the biography that bad advisors misguided his elder son during the Iraq war.

Questioning the questions

Most aspirants have no qualms about hitting hard at fellow Republicans but Mr. Rubio and Mr. Cruz have vowed not to target others to win the nomination, pitching themselves as party loyalists. It was Mr. Cruz who set off a debate on debates in the last round by questioning the questions that were put to Republican candidates, in the middle of the debate hosted by CNBC, arguing that the media never questioned Democrats in such hostile tone. As the issue snowballed, the Republican National Committee (RNC) cancelled a debate scheduled for February on NBC, which also owns CNBC. “Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive,” the RNC wrote to NBC, explaining its decision to cancel the tie up with the network. “Let's have a conservative network host a debate!” candidate Carly Fiorina tweeted. Her biography too is under scrutiny for discrepancies.

Obama joins debate  

Even President Barack Obama joined the debate. “….they can't handle a bunch of CNBC moderators at the debate. Let me tell you, if you can’t handle those guys, then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you,” he said at a Democratic gathering last fortnight.

 Tuesday’s debate is hosted by the conservative Fox Business, and the big questions are how fiercely would candidates confront others and whether the moderators would be restrained after all the flak against the media.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:02:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/republicans-try-to-control-narrative-ahead-of-tuesday-debate/article7862195.ece

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