BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– As a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates prepared to take stage in Boulder for the third-nationally televised debate on Wednesday, Colorado Republicans weighed in on what they expect to see and hear from candidates.

The debate, expected to draw more than 20 million viewers, will begin at the University of Colorado Boulder campus at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on CNBC. The network has said moderators will focus the questions on jobs and the economy.

With Donald Trump sliding the polls for the first time since announcing his candidacy, however, Colorado’s GOP chairman Steve House says expect harsh attacks from the candidate known for going after his opponents.

“I expect Donald to be very aggressive in his debate behavior,” House said, “just like he’s been.”

The most recent national poll, from CBS News/New York Times released Tuesday, showed Ben Carson taking the lead with 26 percent of primary voters indicating they would support him, compared with 22 percent for Trump. Campaign 2016 Debate Boulder

“I expect there to be some passion tonight,” House said, “maybe even extended beyond what we’ve seen, because they are battling for this nomination.”

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican, says he hopes candidates present new ideas on how to move the economy forward. He also wants to hear more from them about the environment, energy issues, and tech industries.

“We’re in Colorado, so take this chance to talk about those things that are important to Colorado,” Gardner said.

Rather than a disadvantage, Gardner sees the debate’s location in liberal-minded Boulder, where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one, as something his party should capitalize on.

“We have to make sure that we are reaching out to areas that haven’t necessarily voted for Republicans in the past,” Gardner said. “Last year we focused on areas like Pueblo County and Adams County, places that Republicans hadn’t always done that well, and we did very well there.”

Both House and Gardner plan to attend the debate.

Lauren DiSpirito is CBS4’s Northern Newsroom reporter. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.


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