24 Hour News 8’s Political Reporter Rick Albin is in Detroit for the Fox News presidential debate and will have reports at 10 and 11 p.m. Follow @WOODTV on Twitter for updates during the debate.


DETROIT (WOOD) — The Fox News GOP presidential debate in Detroit on Thursday is the last big contest before Michigan’s primary and the winner-take-all states on March 15.

Thursday’s debate in Detroit at the Fox Theatre will likely focus very heavily on Donald Trump with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on one side and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on the other side of the front-runner billionaire.

A recent Michigan GOP 2016 presidential primary poll commissioned by WOOD TV8 showed Trump about 10 points ahead of Rubio and Cruz.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich will also be on stage. Kasich says he will stay in Michigan for most of the time between now and March 8 primary.

This debate and primary are attracting far more attention than many thought they would when they were scheduled. An unusual election year and a dissatisfied electorate has turned this into the national focus of Decision 2016, at least for the next few hours.

“If you look, the momentum is on our side,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Lindsay Walters said. “As you’ve seen, voter turnout has broken records. Our voter turnout continues to increase as we see the Democratic side is decreasing in turnout. It’s clear that the American people want to change and their numbers showing up at the polls is evidence of that. They’re ready to have a strong Republican in office. They want a new direction.”

The debate will likely be contentious and bare-knuckled. It may also be a bit unusual in that it could be the only debate this year when the name of Mitt Romney will be invoked more than Ronald Reagan. Romney’s overt criticism of Trump has created a stir in the party and in the media room in Detroit.

The chair of the Michigan Republican Party just happens to be Romney’s niece. Ronna Romney McDaniel said her family is quite political and they all have opinions, but she also told 24 Hour News 8 that she will stay neutral and let the primaries play out.

“My job as chair is once this is all done to bring them together,” she said. “We need to unite around our purpose. We need to support our nominee and we need to make sure Hillary Clinton is not the next president of the United States.”

Tonight’s debate is perhaps the most important of the cycle as establishment Republicans seem desperate to find a way to stop Trump, something that the dozen candidates who have already dropped out couldn’t find a way to do.

Trump is already about a quarter of the way to the nomination based on the delegate count.>>Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of Decision 2016

The debate starts at 9 p.m. on Fox News.

The Kent County Republican Committee is hold a debate watch party Thursday at their headquarters, located at 725 Lake Michigan Drive NW in Grand Rapids. Doors open at 8 p.m.

After the debate, CNN will be doing a live broadcast from the Kent County GOP headquarters to get reaction from viewers.

Dr. Ben Carson said on Wednesday after a disappointing Super Tuesday that he does “not see a political path forward” in his bid for the White House. He also announced he would not attend Thursday’s debate in Detroit.

Inside woodtv.com:Complete coverage of Decision 2016