The names change, but the game stays the same. Days before South Carolina residents head to the polls for the Republican primaries, GOP contenders were preparing for the second consecutive CNN town hall in the Palmetto State. Front-runner Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich were set to take the stage Thursday night at 8 p.m. EST in Columbia.
The event will air live on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Espanol and will be streamed live online at CNNGo. The live stream can be found here.
Town halls are typically more restrained than debates, which have often grown heated, particularly on the Republican side. During Wednesday's town hall meeting in Greenville, GOP candidates took pre-selected questions from audience members and moderator Anderson Cooper.
Trump, who has led the Republican race for months, has maintained a lead in South Carolina. Several candidates are vying for second place, with Rubio and Cruz each polling 18 percent, according to a Public Policy Polling survey, the State reported Monday. Kasich polled at 10 percent, while Bush and Carson followed with 7 percent each.
The South Carolina primary, scheduled for Saturday, is the next major voting event following Iowa and New Hampshire for Republicans. On the Republican side of the race, Cruz won in Iowa, while Trump won in New Hampshire. Kasich, long overshadowed by his more outspoken rivals, saw his polling spike in New Hampshire as he moved into second. Bush, once the presumed nominee, has had trouble creating excitement.
On the Democratic side of the race, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remained the national front-runner, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has seen his popularity soar. The self-identified democratic socialist, who is running as a Democrat, has managed to garner enthusiastic support, particularly among young, first-time voters. Sanders and Clinton will appear at a separate, MSNBC-hosted town hall Thursday evening ahead of the Nevada caucuses.