With Donald Trump facing 91 counts, and Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., flailing, more attention is being paid to Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador, who has turned in two strong debate performances.
As reporters noted, even Donald Trump has recognized the threat, with his campaign sending out anti-Haley propaganda on the night of the second debate.
As the only woman in the race, Haley supporters can be expected to tout her ability to appeal to female voters with her more nuanced stance on abortion.
But make no mistake.
Haley is as conservative and as staunchly anti-choice as the men on the stage with her.
Granted, she has not promoted a federal ban on abortion, as most of the others do.
But that isn't because she doesn't favor it.
Haley prides herself on being pragmatic, and she has explained her position by pointing out that the federal ban simply doesn't have the support of 60 senators, which is what it would take to overcome a filibuster.
Since her first campaign for governor of South Carolina, Haley has presented herself as anti-abortion for the most personal reasons.
Her husband is adopted, "and I live with that blessing every day," she tells audiences.
She doesn't think women should go to jail or face the death penalty for having an abortion (whew), but she doesn't support their right to control their own bodies, even in the early stages of pregnancy, and even if they are the victims of rape or incest.
She calls for a "consensus" on abortion, but her idea of a consensus includes support for the most restrictive approaches to abortion that the South Carolina legislature was willing to pass.
As a state legislator, she supported a bill to end coverage of abortion for victims of rape and incest in the health plan for state employees — a position that even the state Senate in South Carolina refused to adopt.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, has publicly credited Haley as "uniquely gifted at communicating from a pro-life woman's perspective."
What that means is that she "connected with my kids moving inside of me ... something that I think is very important that we think about."
I connected with my children from the earliest stages of my pregnancies, and so do many women, but that doesn't necessarily include young teenagers, or the victims of rape and incest, facing unwanted pregnancies.
Haley uses her gender to her advantage.
Speaking from personal experience, she sounds more moderate than the men do when talking about abortion.
She uses the word "consensus" a great deal, urges Republicans not to be caught in a "bidding war" as to who is more anti-abortion and cautions against "demonizing the issue."
The result is that some commentators, at least, have credited her with forging a "new path," as The New York Times called it, on the abortion issue.
But stripped of semantics, there is nothing really new about it.
The actual consensus on abortion, as national polls show, is embodied by Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973), which was supported by a majority of Americans, albeit not those who serve on the Supreme Court.
But Haley is a mistress of manipulation, as one of my friends decried after watching her closely, and the danger for Democrats, at least, is that it could actually work.
She is a shrewd politician, who will appoint judges who are every bit as conservative on abortion as she really is, and will sign the most restrictive bills that she can get to her desk.
Her style may be more nuanced, but the substance is not.
Susan Estrich is a politician, professor, lawyer and writer. Whether on the pages of newspapers such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post or as a television commentator on countless news programs on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, she has tackled legal matters, women's concerns, national politics and social issues. Read Susan Estrich's Reports — More Here.