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The Lid: Taking Their Talents to Cleveland!

Republicans Face Off In First Big Debate As Focus Centers on Trump 4:23

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos... Republicans are so eager to appeal to voters in the key swing-state city of Cleveland that we expect at least one candidate on stage at the FOX News debate to say as the entirety of their closing statement: "Lebron is better than Jordan, and let's make Great Lakes Christmas Ale available beginning in July! Wooo!"

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'16 AT 30 THOUSAND

You can't throw a rock without hitting some hot takes and listicles on the Internet about what to watch for in the GOP debate tonight, but, why not - here's one more!

Yes, it's heresy to the political junkies, but we dare to ask: Could the primetime debate actually be kind of boring? For all the hype about Donald Trump, the real estate mogul has given plenty of indications that he might stay fairly subdued as long as he's not attacked by other candidates. And with 10 candidates on stage, with many motivated to define themselves as cleanly as possible without getting drawn into spats, it's possible - though by no means likely - that the debate could actually disappoint those looking for fireworks.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

From NBC’s Perry Bacon: Seven things to watch at tonight’s debate(s).

NBC’s Alex Jaffe reports from Ohio on what voters are hoping to learn from the debate. (Hint; It has to do with Donald Trump.)

From Alex Moe, here’s what the GOP candidates have been up to ahead of tonight’s debate.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton slammed the Republican candidates for being “nakedly partisan” when it comes to restricting voting rights.

This is cool: NBC’s Matt Rivera reimagined the debates -- in Sweet Sixteen style.

CAMPAIGN QUICK READS

TRUMP: New York Magazine reports on infighting within Trump’s very small staff, with even his daughter Ivanka getting involved.

PAUL: Buzzfeed reports on the rise and fall of Jesse Benton, Paul’s indicted campaign ally. “I don’t think there’s any coming back from this,” said one aide.

O’MALLEY: Martin O’Malley is planning to debate the Democratic National Committee’s rule limiting Democrats to six primary debates.

FOR THE RECORD…

“Comfort food? Chick-fil-A. One thing you can’t live without? Chick-fil-A. Last movie you saw? The history of Chick-fil-A. Who inspired you? Chick-fil-A. What keeps you up at night? Not having Chick-fil-A.”

-- South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham during a rapid-fire Q&A in Cleveland on Thursday.

TOMORROW’S SKED

The Red State Gathering begins in Atlanta, Georgia: Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio speak.

Jeb Bush holds a town hall in Barrington, NH.

Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul all campaign in South Carolina.