GOP 2016 Debate

Efforts are underway to get GOP presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio, seen here from left during a Feb. 13 debate, to stop in Idaho Falls. Cruz has already tentatively agreed to visit.

IDAHO FALLS — Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz might be debating each other at an Idaho Falls forum on the day before the Gem State’s GOP primary.

Republicans from Idaho’s Region 7 said they have invited the three candidates to participate in the March 7 forum, and Cruz has tentatively accepted the invitation.

Media reports state that Rubio has tentative plans to visit Idaho on March 7, but his campaign has not yet confirmed whether he will participate in the forum.

Bryan Smith, the Region 7 GOP chairman, said he hopes all three of the candidates show up for the forum. But even having one of them there proves that “Idaho is no longer a flyover state,” he said.

The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 7 at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls, and will be free and open to the public.

Cruz is also scheduled on March 7 to visit Coeur d’Alene at 10 a.m. and the Boise area at 3:30 p.m.

Trump’s campaign has not confirmed yet whether Trump will participate in the March 7 Idaho Falls forum. But a Trump representative will take part in the March 5 Lincoln Day Banquet, also in Idaho Falls, that will feature Cruz’s father, Rafael.

Rafael Cruz is a Cuban refugee who became a Christian pastor in the U.S. and currently lives in Texas, the same state where his son is a U.S. senator.

The March 5 banquet will also feature Melaleuca founder and Idaho GOP heavyweight Frank VanderSloot speaking on behalf of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. There will be a representative from Ben Carson’s campaign who will speak as well.

The banquet will start with a social hour at 6 p.m. followed by the speeches about their respective candidates by VanderSloot, Rafael Cruz and the others starting at 7 p.m. The banquet will also be held at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls.

Tickets to the Lincoln Day Banquet are $30 in advance by calling Smith at 208-524-0731 or $35 at the door. Smith said that anyone who buys a ticket to the banquet will receive preferential seating at the March 7 forum.

At the end of the March 5 banquet, there will be a GOP primary straw poll conducted via text messaging by those in attendance. After the winner of the straw poll is announced, there will be a free raffle for a shotgun to close out the event.

The Idaho Region 7 Republicans are sponsoring both the March 7 forum and the March 5 banquet. Region 7 includes Bonneville, Jefferson, Madison, Teton, Butte, Clark, Fremont, Lemhi and Custer counties.