Photo: FOX News
DETROIT (WJBK) - The stage is now set for four at the Fox Theatre in Detroit ahead of Thursday night's GOP Debate. Detroit native Ben Carson announced Wednesday that he would not be attending the debate, as he does "not see a political path forward in light of ... Super Tuesday primary results." He has not officially ended his campaign yet, though.
Meanwhile, the green rooms are being prepared for candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
Ten tons of equipment has arrived in Motown after being taken down and trucked over from the last town. The man in charge of making the set look good said the Fox Theatre is one of the nicest venues he's worked.
"We actually did a debate here in 2004 and I was not the production manager for that one and when I saw it on air, I was very jealous of the production manager who got to do it. And kept saying over the years, one of these days I'd love to do a show here," says senior production manager Jim Doetsch. "It just so happened that it worked out timing wise that we came back this year, so I'm very excited to be here."
Each candidate's green room is being prepped with phones, food and computers.
"There's no, like, rock 'n' roll riders where they get specific things. Basically, we work out with the RNC and, in the past, just on our own. Every candidate gets the same thing," Doetsch says.
During the debate, we can expect Rubio vs. Trump: The Sequel as their rivalry heats up. Sen. Ted Cruz, who has the second highest number of delegates, will need to make a strong showing after a Super Tuesday victory in his homestate of Texas and a win in Oklahoma. Kasich is stumping hard in Michigan just trying to stay alive. He and Marco Rubio held rallies here on Wednesday.
So, why Detroit?
FOX 2's Roop Raj spoke with a FOX News executive who spoke on why Detroit is so important to the candidates.
"Detroit is important because of the economy. I mean, there's no question that when you look at Detroit and know something about Detroit, you understand the dynamics of a city that had something major, the auto industry, saw it go away and then had to rebuild, and that's what you're seeing in Detroit," says Cherie Grzech. "So, I think when the candidates come here they're talking to an audience who really wants to know, what are you going to do to maintain the jobs and the economy in this country?"
Aside from the issues Detroit faces, many are also wondering if the Republican candidates will finally address the Flint Water Crisis. So far, candidates have seemed to shy away from the issues or said they do not know enough about it to speak on it.
FOX 2 Special Local Coverage
The debate starts at 9 p.m. You can watch it on FOX News Channel. Public tickets are no longer available for the debate, but you can still get an up-close look from Roop Raj. He's doing a special show exclusively on the FOX 2 Facebook Page that will be live at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. He'll take us inside the Fox Theatre for a behind-the-scenes look at what's happening before the big debate begins.
We will also have a special "Let It Rip" tonight, beginning at 11 p.m. right after the debate.
Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will also be in Michigan this weekend. Their Democratic debate will happen in Flint on Sunday, March 6. Sen. Sanders spoke in Lansing Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and Clinton just announced she will be speaking in Detroit Friday afternoon.
Michigan's primary is happening Tuesday, March 8 with 148 delegates at stake.