Republicans Trump, Cruz seize spotlight at US presidential debate

December 16, 2015 02:44

LAS VEGAS - Republican front-runner Donald Trump and surging challenger Ted Cruz will lead the party's presidential contenders in a debate on Tuesday, their first encounter since deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino propelled national security to the top of the U.S. campaign agenda.

With seven weeks to go before the first nominating contest in Iowa, Trump, 69, has held or expanded his lead in national polls in the Republican race for the November 2016 presidential election but seen Cruz, 44, move past him in some Iowa surveys, making their debate encounter potentially combustible.

A conservative US senator from Texas, Cruz has tried to avoid direct confrontation with Trump, but Cruz's rise in the polls could make him a target for the combative billionaire at the nationally televised forum from Las Vegas due to begin at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday (0200 GMT on Wednesday).

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