Major Garrett: Donald Trump ‘The Biggest X-Factor of the GOP Race’

‘If frontrunner’s status counts for anything nearly six months before Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump arrives [in Cleveland] with it’


ROSE: “The Republican presidential candidates will gather tonight for campaign 2016's first major debate. They will be in Cleveland where the party will crown its nominee in less than a year.”

N. O’DONNELL: “All the candidates, you could say, are looking for a boost tonight, but only 10 of them have a chance to appeal to voters in prime time. One big question: how they will handle Donald Trump? Major Garrett is outside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, where the debate will be held. Major, good morning.”

GARRETT: “Good morning. This is the Republican political equivalent of the Super Bowl. That is until the next presidential debate comes along. But first is first. And if front-runner status counts for anything, nearly six months before the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump arrives here with it. And something more. The political apprentice is by far the biggest ‘X Factor’ of the GOP race.”

[clip starts]

RUBIO: “We need policies that allow us to compete.”

GARRETT (voice-over): “The Florida Senator Marco Rubio was the only Republican candidate to campaign on Fox debate eve.”

RUBIO: “I’m excited about the chance for talking to the American people about who I am.”

GARRETT (voice-over): “Careful not to break with an annual tradition, Scott Walker will open the Wisconsin state fair this morning. While Jeb Bush plans to attend mass with his wife. The rest of the field will likely be hunkered down, preparing for a big arena, a crowded stage, and nerves.”

PORTMAN: “They’re probably a little nervous. This is the first debate, you know, so everybody's kind of wondering what the dynamics are going to be like.”

GARRETT (voice-over): “Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman prepped, Bob Dole, Dick Cheney, John McCain and Mitt Romney for debates, but none had to prepare for the likes of Trump.”

PORTMAN: “You really do have to be prepared for Donald Trump to say or do just about anything, I suppose. But I think he's likely to be professional in the sense of focusing on policy issues.”

GARRETT (voice-over): “The billionaire businessman has climbed over other Republicans on the way to the top.”

TRUMP: “Jeb will be very poor as a president. No energy. … You have this guy Lindsey Graham, a total lightweight. … Marco Rubio is somebody who is extremely weak on immigration. … Rick Perry the other day… he put glasses on so people will think he's smart.”

GARRETT (voice-over): “Perry, the former Texas governor, will not have a chance at a showdown. He and the rest of the GOP field were relegated instead to a 5:00 pm warm-up act.”

B. O'DONNELL: “In the happy hour debate, the early debate, I think there will be a person that emerges from that debate.”

GARRETT (voice-over): “Brett O'Donnell also worked with Mitt Romney and is helping Lindsey Graham this time around. But what to do about Trump?”

B. O'DONNELL: “I think you wait to be attacked. You want to make Donald Trump a sideline show, not the center of attention.”

[clip ends]

GARRETT: “Before Trump began his campaign, he had a conversation with Former President Bill Clinton. This confirmed by Clinton’s camp. The conversation was general, no advice sought or given. At least by the former president. Charlie, Trump's camp has no comment.”



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