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NYT First Draft On Politics - January 29, 2016: The Man Who Wasn’t There.

Friday, January 29, 2016

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The New York Times

Friday, January 29, 2016

Supporters of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas attended a debate watch party on Thursday night in Des Moines.
Supporters of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas attended a debate watch party on Thursday night in Des Moines. Eric Thayer for The New York Times
The Man Who Wasn’t There
Good Friday morning. The final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses came with the usual so-called undercard forum, live analysis and fact checks. But what it didn’t have was its regular central figure.
A debate without Donald J. Trump does not mean that Mr. Trump is really absent.
At least that was the takeaway after the first two-hour Republican primary debate held without the real estate developer, who is leading public opinion polls in Iowa and who decided not to attend the final face-off after a running feud with the host, Fox News.
Mr. Trump was mentioned repeatedly in the opening moments, mostly in a mocking way. But without him, there was a significant difference in energy. It was a bit like a television series in which a major character disappears midseason, said to be off on a business trip, as the actor playing that character films a movie or deals with a health crisis. The show goes on, but it doesn’t feel the same.
Without Mr. Trump, most of the drama involved Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, each of whom was asked tough questions by the moderator Megyn Kelly — who demonstrated that her toughness is not, in fact, limited to Mr. Trump — about changes in their immigration stances. Fox News played footage of both men talking about the issue in previous years in ways that seemed to clash with their current statements. (One has to wonder whether Mr. Trump’s aides had been aware that old videos would be used during the debate when they collectively decided he wouldn’t attend.) At first, Mr. Cruz, a sharp debater, seemed to benefit greatly from Mr. Trump’s absence, but he seemed less sure-footed later. Mr. Cruz also had a terse exchange with another moderator, Chris Wallace.
Mr. Rubio, who at times seemed to shout, and Jeb Bush exchanged harsh barbs about immigration overhaul, which represented some of Mr. Bush’s best moments in any previous debate. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey made his presence felt, but his answers felt deeply similar to previous ones.
It’s not clear if the debate will change many minds in Iowa, but Mr. Bush and Mr. Rubio, who had been drowned out by the Trump-Cruz show, might now get a second look before the caucuses on Monday night. 
And while Mr. Trump may have halted his momentum by stepping off stage, he did himself no harm, and put Mr. Cruz in the line of fire. 
Debate Coverage
Attacking the Republican candidate who was not there was a recurring theme Thursday night, but the Democrat Hillary Clinton was also a favorite target.
Doug Mills/The New York Times
The final Republican presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses took a surreal turn on Thursday night as seven candidates clashed over immigration, border security and government surveillance, yet found their messages overshadowed by Donald J. Trump’s boycott of the event.
Donald J. Trump hosted an event on Thursday night in Des Moines. It was held at the same time as the Republican debate.
Damon Winter/The New York Times
News Analysis
It was supposed to be about the veterans. It was not really about the veterans.
Gov. John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul, at the Fox News/Google Republican debate at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Commentators across the country assessed the Republicans who attended Thursday’s debate in Des Moines and the one who didn’t: Donald J. Trump.

Doug Mills/The New York Times
The candidates are engaged in the final G.O.P. debate before the Iowa caucuses — without Donald J. Trump. Here were the highlights.

The Iowa Scene
Members of the National Nurses Union gathered in front of their bus before an event for Senator Bernie Sanders, who they support, in Clinton, Iowa, this week.
Iowa Snapshots
The Times continues to document the intense and often emotional days before the Iowa caucuses.
Members of the National Nurses Union gathered in front of their bus before an event for Senator Bernie Sanders, who they support, in Clinton, Iowa, this week.
Meet Some of the Voters in Rural Iowa That Could Decide the Winner
Small-town Iowans have a huge role in picking the next president. Their deep commitment to the process paints a distinct portrait of democracy.
Our Man in Iowa: A Scramble to Turn Out Voters After the Debate
We sent our reporter Trip Gabriel to live in Iowa. Here’s what he’s watching for as the caucuses near.
Former President Bill Clinton at a campaign event for his wife in Mason City, Iowa, on Wednesday.
Max Whittaker for The New York Times
As the former president tries to energize his wife’s campaign, even some of his admirers wonder about his more subdued style and faded magnetism.
Gov. John Kasich at an event in Davenport, Iowa, on Wednesday, the day before the Republican debate.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Ohio governor is doing minimal campaigning in Iowa, where he is way behind but working instead to win New Hampshire, where he’s climbing in the polls.
Senator Marco Rubio’s bus arrived for a campaign event at a bar in Des Moines on Wednesday.
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
According to the Florida senator’s advisers, panicked Republicans would flock to Mr. Rubio, while a victory by Senator Ted Cruz would be the worst case.
Bernie Sanders campaigned in Mason City, Iowa, on Wednesday.
Eric Thayer for The New York Times
First Draft
Mr. Sanders’s campaign released a letter from the congressional physician summarizing his medical history.


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