The Republicans running for their party’s presidential nomination will meet tonight in Las Vegas for the final debate of the year. Since the last time the candidates met, Ted Cruz has emerged as a plausible contender for the party’s nomination. He’s not yet the frontrunner—that’s still Donald Trump—but national polls show him in second place, on an upward trajectory, and on particularly solid footing in Iowa.
As a result, Texas’s junior senator can expect to take heavy fire tonight. Trump has become increasingly agitated over Cruz’s growing strength, and is expected to go on the attack against him. Some of the other Republicans running will do the same; they may have been counting on Trump’s eventual self-immolation, but Cruz has shown no such tendencies and is therefore a real threat to everyone else on stage.
All of which means that I expect this to be a big night for the Cruz campaign. Politics aside, Cruz is a highly self-disciplined and even-tempered debate champion who has never lost his head in public. I’m hard-pressed to think of a situation he’s more optimized to handle. This video, I think, will prove to be a pretty good preview of the debate. Cruz is the one in the Tanuki suit. If you’re watching along tonight, feel free to discuss in the comments.