As Republicans Prepare to Debate Again, Trump Hopes the 2nd Verse Is Just Like the First

NYT FDMAGGIE HABERMAN Monday, September 14, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.56.49 AMGood Monday morning. The Republican presidential candidates prepare to take the stage for their second debate with a new face in the prime-time lineup, and with Donald J. Trump holding his place at center stage.

On Wednesday night, flanked by 10 other Republican presidential candidates, Mr. Trump will show whether he can deliver a repeat performance at a debate.

Despite all assumptions about the laws of political gravity, Mr. Trump not only survived a contretemps over his criticisms of a moderator, Megyn Kelly of Fox News, at the first debate, but managed to thrive, doubling his support in some polls since.

Just as last time, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, will be to Mr. Trump’s left on the stage. Mr. Bush is the rival whom Mr. Trump most loves to kick, and it has visibly gotten under his skin.

To Mr. Trump’s right will be Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has become a recent target of the reality television star as he has risen in the polls, in part on the success of his performance at the first debate. Mr. Trump has used the same basic insult against Mr. Carson that he has against Mr. Bush — that he’s lacking in energy.
But Mr. Carson’s response has been fairly self-assured, potentially forecasting a bit of a change in the dynamic for Mr. Trump, who has almost always succeeded in getting the last word with his opponents.
Mr. Trump will have another frequent jousting opponent on stage in Carly Fiorina, the lone woman in the race. And two of the aides who helped prepare Mr. Trump for the first debate, Sam Nunberg and Roger J. Stone Jr., are no longer with his team.