Candidates in debate step up without Trump distraction

Photo: FOX News

The seven Republican presidential candidates who've accepted the invitation to participate in Thursday night's Fox News/Google debate are trying to step into the spotlight Donald Trump vacated when he decided to boycott the Iowa showdown.

For the first time, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be center-stage at the prime-time event. He is fighting to regain lost ground over Trump in the Iowa polls, and is widely expected to train his attacks Thursday night on the missing front-runner.

“I think it's stunning Donald has refused to do it,” Cruz told Fox News.

But without the kind of Trump-Cruz war of words that dominated the last Republican debate, other candidates may have a better chance of breaking through at the showdown in Des Moines.

“They all need a game-changing moment,” Taryn Rosenkranz, founder of the political digital strategy firm New Blue Interactive, told Fox News.

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