COLUMBUS, Ohio — The top ten Democratic candidates for president will face each other in their third debate Thursday night. For the first time, all the candidates qualifying for the debate will be on the same stage.
“The field is starting to narrow," said former Democratic state senator Lou Gentile who campaigned in Iowa for Dick Gephardt in 2003. "Obviously there’s a long way to go but a lot of it is about resources and support and who can build that the fastest, especially in the early states.”
National polls have shown President Trump trailing each of the top five Democratic candidates head to head.
“It’s very encouraging right now," he said. "Several of the front runners match up very well and actually are ahead of President Trump in a lot of national polling. Obviously, we still have an Electoral College in place and so you have to be successful in key states, Ohio being one of them.”
John Pudner, who was part of President George W. Bush's 2000 campaign, said the latest polls showed trouble for Trump temporarily.
“He wouldn’t win an election today," Pudner said. "Now the flip side is, the election is not today.”
He said Ohio may not be the most critical swing state during the General Election that it has been historically but both campaigns know not to take it for granted.
“Even after (the Bush 2000 campaign), the campaign guys all said, ‘look, we basically need to figure out a way to move the White House to Columbus’," he said. We wanted Bush to live here from 2000 to 2004. It was that crucial.”
Pudner said he believed states like Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin would be closer and receive more attention in 2020. He now works for an organization called Take Back Our Republic aiming to get money out of politics.