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Your quick-and-dirty guide to tonight’s GOP debate

Trump and terrorism. What could be a better combination for two hours of yell-talking?


Kevin Collier


It’s starting to feel a lot like… time for another a contentious presidential debate. The 13 remaining Republican candidates will take the stage in Las Vegas on Tuesday night for the last GOP debate of 2015. With the fear of terrorism on the rise and increasingly boisterous claims from the candidates, it’s set to be a real barn burner. Here’s what you need to know.

Who’s debating? What time?

Coverage of the so-called undercard debate starts at 6pm ET, and it features South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former New York Gov. George Pataki, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Coverage of the prime-time debate starts at 8:30pm ET. It includes nine candidates: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and real estate mogul Donald Trump.

How can I watch?

If you’ve got cable, turn it on to CNN. If not, or if you don’t have a cable subscription—or just hate the way your TV looks these days—you can just stream it at for free.

What are they going to talk about?

Expect a lot of talk about security, terrorism, and the Islamic State. CNN has just specifically mentioned national security and global terrorism as topics. Remember, this is the first presidential debate since the ISIS attack in Paris, and ISIS-inspired shooting in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead.

What do you want to hear about?

Us? So glad you asked! We at the Daily Dot are hoping to hear thoughtful discussion CISA, the controversial cybersecurity bill that critics say is more of a surveillance bill, and encryption, a category of technology on which every Internet user relies but one that has come under fire as a tool for terrorists and criminals. 

CISA, which promotes sharing of cyber threat data between private companies and the U.S. government, is currently making its way through Congress, in one form or another. Much more than anyone else on tonight’s stage, Sen. Paul has repeatedly insisted that CISA-style data-sharing would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

On the encryption front, FBI Director James Comey has repeatedly insisted that forcing companies, like Apple or Google, to give law enforcement special access into encrypted communications is necessary to help catch terrorists and criminals. Cybersecurity experts, however, say that will accomplish little except making those services more vulnerable to hackers. Considering the fact that the Department of Justice today announced they’d caught another alleged ISIS supporter in the U.S. who used strong information security techniques, it’s a ripe topic.

Of course, if any of the last debates are any indication, the candidates will mostly focus on how bad a job they think President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have done in protecting the U.S. from terrorism.

Is Trump going to be center stage?

Considering he’s consistently held the lead in the polls for months, often by a fairly large margin—and considering that with his recent statements about wanting to ban Muslims from entering the country—yes, all eyes are going to be on Trump, as usual. 

I mean, literally, will he be placed at center-stage?

Oh, yes. Four candidates to the left of him, four to the right. Stuck in the middle is Trump.

Who are the candidates to watch?

Well, technically, you should watch all of them to assess how fit they are to be president of the United States. But if you’re just looking for drama, watch for Trump and Cruz to go after each other, Rubio to go after Cruz, and basically everyone to go after Trump.

Will Chris Christie bring up 9/11?

We can’t imagine any context in which he wouldn’t.

Is this the debate that will make or break Jeb Bush?

We have no idea. But some pundits think so!

Will CNN oblige Trump’s earlier demand to pay $5 million in his name to charity in order to convince him to come?


He’s still coming, though?


Illustration by Max Fleishman

The Daily Dot