ENTERTAINMENT

Dealing With The Skunk In The Room

As the GOP's presidential hopefuls steer their way into the second debate, their challenge in many ways will be the same one they faced before: what to do about the interloper in their midst. Back in August, Roger Ailes attempted to come to the rescue of his beloved Republican contenders, only to watch his appointed moderators fail at Trump-slaying duty. Now, with CNN set to host, Trump's rivals are largely on their own.

Which may not be a bad thing. Over the last few weeks, as each Republican hopeful has attempted to regain his or her footing, we've seen almost as many distinct anti-Trump tactics deployed as there are candidates. Some are trying to stay above the fray. Some are lacing up the gloves, hoping that a clever clap back will send the teevee blowhard cowering. A few are just ignoring Trump completely, hoping he'll go away.

 What's the best way to deal with the skunk at the garden party? Cruelty? Cleverness? Maybe it's kindness! We're going to try to figure it out on this week's First To Last.

RANK CANDIDATE
1
BEN CARSON: KILLING HIM WITH RELIGIOUS KINDNESS
As Ben Carson creeps upward in the polls, he’s staying soft-spoken and respectful, issuing only barbs wrapped in velvet. Maybe turning the other cheek is the way to go!
2
TED CRUZ: THE KISS-UP
Or, if you’re Ted Cruz, you focus on the other, lower cheek. It’s a strange sight to see 2016’s haughtiest candidate fawn over Trump, but if the real estate mogul collapses, his voters have to go somewhere!
3
BOBBY JINDAL: THE FULL-FRONTAL CLOWN ATTACK
Jindal's performed exorcisms before, so maybe his recent attempts at low-road invective can actually reveal Trump’s disingenuous spirit.
4
CARLY FIORINA: POISE UNDER PRESSURE
Fiorina has opted to refrain from hitting back with a killer blow yet, but her stoic response to Trump’s recent jabs are demonstrating that she’s no stranger to dealing with boardroom business macho bullshit. This debate will be one to watch.
5
LINDSEY GRAHAM: THE DUELLIST
Graham might be on to something with this threat to “beat [Trump’s] brains out” -- maybe the way to take Trump down is to be the “new alpha.” Unfortunately, Graham isn’t polling well enough to get into the same room.
6
JEB BUSH: SERIOUS THINKER
Deep down, Jeb Bush’s persona is “sensitive nerd.” As such, he’d desperately like to stage a fight with Trump on the high road -- like any presumptive frontrunner would! Trouble is, Trump won't meet him there.
7
RAND PAUL: KILL THE RICH
Rand Paul didn’t take kindly to Trump calling him a spoiled brat, and responded by criticizing Trump -- and his kids! -- "for spending their lives in an affluent bubble." But since when do Republicans find that offensive?
8
MITT ROMNEY: THE LOOMING ANTI-TRUMP
He hasn't taken a stand on Trump yet, but the scuttlebutt is that it’s coming. Meanwhile, the field’s inability to defeat the reality star is making Mitt look good again, giving rise to another round of “could he swoop into the race” speculation.
9
HILLARY CLINTON: DO NOT INTERRUPT THIS
And be thankful that the Trump effect is dominating the headlines.
Candidate Photos: Getty, Associated Press
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