Republicans Reload For Simi Valley Showdown

Republican establishment candidates face a new challenge in Wednesday night’s second GOP presidential debate: how to capture the excitement of primary voters that is now squarely behind the outsiders.

Meanwhile, front-runner Donald Trump, second-place Ben Carson and rising star Carly Fiorina have to show they could lead the country.

Here’s a look at what Republicans say each candidate needs to do for a successful showing Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Donald Trump

Republicans say the billionaire businessman will need to conjure all of his skills as a supremely confident showman and entertainer to handle the increased scrutiny and attacks likely headed his way.

However, many Republicans say he also needs to display a strong grasp of policy while laying out a vision for the country that goes beyond the insistence that he’ll “make America great again” by “winning” at everything.

Of course, the normal rules don’t seem to apply to Trump, who led the RealClearPolitics average of polls on Tuesday with 30 percent support.

“I’m not sure he needs to do anything other than continue to be the dominant alpha male,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “It’s worked for him so far.”

Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and Rand Paul

Paul has been “completely marginalized,” O’Connell said. In a move that has doomed other desperate candidates, the Kentucky senator is committed to taking on Trump. Republicans say his bigger focus should be to re-energize a libertarian base that seems to have cooled on his candidacy.

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy