GOP candidates prepare for 4th campaign debate

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The stage is set for another Republican showdown (KTRK)

The first three debates may have been entertaining.

And they certainly drew big ratings with a combined audience of roughly 60 million people.

But did you really learn anything in California? Did showmanship Trump information in Cleveland?

Was it candidates or was it the moderators who asked questions that drew out the reality television aspect of primetime politics? Will that change with the fourth debate?

"A little but of politics is spectacle and showmanship/showwomanship, entertainment. But ultimately running for president is about substance," explained Mordecai Lee.

He is a professor of public administration and government at The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and has been in and around politics for decades. He laments the lack of policy in these televised debates.

"People will judge you based on your views and or they'll judge you based on your character. They like you. They don't like you. I don't think any of that is working here," said Lee.

But will it work tonight? There are fewer candidates on the stage. Maybe that will mean more opportunity for substance.

One thing that is certain in Milwaukee this week is that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is still a part of the primary process. His presidential bid didn't last long. He was out after the second debate and never made much of a splash, though some considered him an early front runner for the GOP nomination.

But he is still a factor.

Here in his home state and ahead of tonight's debate, candidates are seeking his support. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush appeared with Walker Monday at a charter school.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who came to Milwaukee a day early, joined Walker at a private fundraiser after his public event.

"Democrats have won every election here since 1984 but it's always very close," said Daniel Bice.

He is a longtime political watchdog at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And having help from a governor elected 3 times could go a long way, especially in a state so closely contested.

"They know Wisconsin is an important state," he told Eyewitness News. "It's one of the ten or eleven states and so they need him. The only thing is, Paul Ryan was on the ticket last time and he couldn't carry the state."

The debate features eight candidates in the primetime affair. In addition to Bush and Rubio, businessman Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Ohio Governor John Kasich will take the stage for a two hour event.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, previous prime time participants, did not meet the minimum supporter threshold for the later debate. Instead, they'll take part in an earlier one hour debate with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

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