Tonight, all of them should be using their time to take pointed shots at the no show showcasing his views being out of step with conservatism and Iowa values. They should not attack each other.
But we know Rand is going to hit Cruz, the only guy with a chance in Iowa who led consistently and is close enough to pull it off if old voters show up that voted Huck and Santy in 2008 and 12, which is not going to help anyone but Trump.
Rubio may try the same, or Christie or Bush may try it on Rubio.
They all want to win, naturally, trying leapfrog their nearest guy to surpass Cruz as the anti-Trump option.
But given the idol worship irrationality that is developing for a populist demagogue, they will not get that chance if Trump is not taken out in the FIRST vote thus demystifying the mystique of him being the inevitable winner and being Mr. Winner.
All those later fights will not even arise if Trump is on top in Iowa. The media will repeat that he’s unstoppable and he will appear talking about how he’s leading all the national polls and by state, showing the first win, etc. Ideally he loses in NH, but since it’s second, if he does after losing Iowa there is still a chance to stop him.
But his lead in NH will swell and give him a sure win over Rubio or another better fit there than Cruz (who will not win NH even if he wins in Iowa) if the very first vote and the psychological implications of that go his way given all the other things he’s got going for him now in momentum/psychology.
Beating each other up instead of using the time to eviscerate Trump is a mistake.
The best outcome would be for Cruz to win Iowa, and Rubio to win NH or even Kasich/Bush.
Anybody but Trump.