Politics junkies can watch a live stream of the latest Republican debate, staged by Fox News in Detroit, Michigan, Thursday — a debate in which frontrunner Donald Trump, who now appears increasingly to be the inevitable Republican nominee, is expected to confront the growing #NeverTrump movement within the Republican party head on.
After his resounding Super Tuesday victory, which put him more than 25 percent of the way to the required delegate count of 1,237 require for the party’s nomination, a wave of prominent Republicans suddenly appeared to realize what they say is the threat posed by Donald Trump to the Republican party. The hashtag #NeverTrump quickly came to symbolize the anti-Trump movement — or, some would say, panic — inside the party.
UPDATE, March 4: Donald Trump found himself on the defensive for much of the March 3 Fox News Republican debate in Detroit, forced to come up with answers about his failed Trump University and even such other aborted business ventures as his Trump Steaks food brand. Whether the heavy attacks on Trump will do anything to turn his supporters away from him remains doubtful, however, experts said.
Watch a full replay of the Detroit Fox News Republican debate in the video below.
The 10th of 12 scheduled Republican debates features the smallest lineup so far, with only four candidates remaining in the race. In addition to Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Ohio Governor John Kasich will also be at the debate Thursday, which is scheduled to get underway at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, 6 p.m. Pacific.
The debate comes just two days before the next round of Republican primaries and caucuses, which will be held on Saturday, March 5 in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maine.
The 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney delivered a speech on Thursday morning, just hours before the Fox News Republican debate. He pulled no punches in blasting Trump, deeming Trump “a fraud” and running down a list of Trump’s numerous failed and questionable business endeavors and ripping Trump’s stated admiration for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, among other criticisms.
Watch Romney’s full speech in the video below.
Most Republicans appeared to understand that none of the other three remaining candidates — who will all appear on the Fox News debate stage Thursday — have a realistic chance of catching Trump in the delegate count and are now focusing on methods to stop Trump from accruing those necessary 1,237 in hopes that he can be defeated at the Republican convention.
But during televised election coverage on Tuesday night, longtime Republican party lawyer Ben Ginsberg remarkably, on national television, spelled out the steps Republicans could take to deny Trump the nomination — even if he does compile the needed delegate count, thus thwarting the will of Republican voters.
Watch Ginsberg offer his strategy in the following video.
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Trump, for his part, lashed back at Romney using his favored means of communication, Twitter.
Failed candidate Mitt Romney,who ran one of the worst races in presidential history,is working with the establishment to bury a big “R” win!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2016
I am the only one who can beat Hillary Clinton. I am not a Mitt Romney, who doesn’t know how to win. Hillary wants no part of “Trump”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2016
And also on Thursday, there were signs that the #NeverTrump movement will be short-lived, as conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch — whose companies own Fox News, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other outlets — expressed his belief that Trump would, in fact, “unify” the Republican party.
As predicted, Trump reaching out to make peace with Republican “establishment”. If he becomes inevitable party would be mad not to unify.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) March 2, 2016
Nonetheless, other Republicans continued their attack on Trump, particularly after the New York real estate mogul appeared to decline an opportunity to disavow support from the Ku Klux Klan over the weekend.
“He says he admires Putin, he quotes Mussolini. He can’t get his way out of a KKK, David Duke reference,” Virginia Republican congressional representative Scott Rigell said in an interview with CNN. “What is missing in the mind of a person who doesn’t just immediately reject the KKK and David Duke? He doesn’t represent who we are as the Republican Party.”
Rigell pledged to cast a write-in vote in the general election rather than vote for Trump or the Democratic candidate, “for the first time in my life.”
According to estimates of delegate “targets” compiled by FiveThirtyEight.com, using demographic and other statistics to determine the minimum number of delegates each candidate must take on a state-by-state basis to secure the nomination, Trump is doing better than expected, although not by a huge amount.
The candidate has 338 delegates — 114 percent of the total he was expected to capture by this point, according to FiveThirtyEight. But in absolute totals, Trump has won only 46 percent of the available delegates, leaving him theoretically vulnerable.
[Featured Photo by Christopher Furlong / Getty Images]