WASHINGTON, D.C.: A winnowed crop of eight candidates takes the stage Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) for the next Republican US presidential debate, with surging outsider Ben Carson’s tumultuous backstory under the microscope and Jeb Bush fighting for his political life.
The showdown in Milwaukee, Wisconsin comes two and a half months before the first state-wide votes in the primary process to determine which Republican and which Democrat will square off in the November 2016 election that determines who succeeds Barack Obama in the White House.
Amid pressure to narrow the field for the party’s fourth debate in the series — the race two months ago had bulged to 17 contenders — broadcaster Fox Business Network changed the format from previous Republican clashes, with only eight candidates at the podiums instead of 10.
Low-pollers New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee failed to make the cut. They are relegated to the undercard debate, which begins at 0000 GMT Wednesday and features four back-of-the-pack candidates.
Two others, Senator Lindsey Graham and former New York governor George Pataki, have generated virtually zero support and were bumped from the proceedings altogether.
The main event kicks off at 0200 GMT Wednesday.
Republicans Carson and billionaire Donald Trump are riding high in public polls and besting their establishment counterparts, most of whom are struggling to gain traction in a political environment saturated with populist anger.
Carson, a retired neursurgeon who like Trump has never held elected office, has become the focus of intense scrutiny as US media pore over elements of his undeniably inspirational personal narrative, including his accounts about his violent adolescence, when he says he attempted to kill a classmate.
“There’s no question I’m getting special scrutiny, because there are a lot of people who are very threatened, and then they have seen the recent head-to-head polling against Hillary (Clinton) and how well I do,” Carson told CBS television’s “Face the Nation” program on Sunday.