The Republican presidential candidates will face off one last time Thursday night before heading into Super Tuesday, when an enormous swath of delegates across the country will be awarded as 12 states vote in GOP nominating contests.
This debate is hosted by CNN, Telemundo and the Salem Media Group, and will take place at the University of Houston. Telemundo is the only Spanish-language network the Republican National Committee (RNC) has sanctioned to host a debate in the 2016 election cycle, and it will carry the event live in Spanish Thursday night.
NBC was originally scheduled to host the debate, but after many of the candidates complained about questions and organization in a CNBC debate last October, the RNC suspended its relationship with NBC and later pulled the network from this debate altogether.
While many of the previous GOP debates included a selection of the candidates running for the party’s nomination, all five remaining candidates will appear in Thursday’s single prime-time event. They include businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.
However, the criteria CNN used to determine who would participate in its debate differed from previous showdowns. To be included, candidates had to have received at least 5 percent in one of the first four Republican nominating contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada — CNN announced Feb. 19. All other debates this cycle included some requirement about polling data for candidates hoping to participate, but this time the requirements focused on actual election results.
With the incredibly important Super Tuesday primaries just days away, all of the GOP candidates will be looking to deliver strong performances that show voters they have what it takes to be commander-in-chief. As of Wednesday afternoon, Trump maintained his national lead over the field with 33.6 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, while Cruz sat at 20.4 percent, Rubio held 16.4 percent, Kasich held 9.8 percent and Carson stood at 7.4 percent.
The debate will be moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, and the network’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, will also ask questions, along with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt and Telemundo’s Maria Celeste Arras, who will focus on Latino issues, according to Telemundo.
The showdown will take place from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST and can be watched on CNN or Telemundo, as well as live-streamed on each of their websites.