Property mogul Donald Trump, a wildcard entrant into the race for the presidential nomination for 2016, has seen a surge in popularity at the polls and this has given him the pole position in Thursday night’s Republican Party primary debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
"On the eve of the Republican debate, CNN announced that it would host the first Democratic presidential debate in Nevada on October 13."
The main debate, which will be hosted by right-leaning television channel Fox News and will begin at 9 p.m. EDT, saw the prime slot given to the top ten Republican candidates as ranked by five polls, including Bloomberg , CBS News , Fox News , Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University.
A lower-tier debate, likely organised to accommodate the raft of eclectic candidates, who have thus far entered the race, will include Indian-American Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Mr. Trump, who topped the polls and is seen by some as a controversial candidate for, among other things, his strong views on immigration control and his off-the-cuff remarks on the Hispanic community, will literally be positioned front and centre for the evening’s main event.
He will be flanked by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
In the polls, Mr. Trump’s closest competitor was Mr. Bush, who trailed him by more than 10 points, making Mr. Trump the “default king the other Republicans will have to uncrown.”
In addition to Mr. Jindal and Mr. Perry, those who did not make the cut and had to be satisfied with the “undercard debate” at 5 p.m. EDT, were former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, sole woman candidate and former Hewlett Packard head Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former New York Governor George Pataki, and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.
Similar to previous years’ debates, the candidates will be given one minute to answer questions posed to them, following which the moderators will select other candidates for 30 seconds for rebuttals.
As the co-host of the debate, Facebook will be given the opportunity to introduce a question at 15-minute intervals, possibly based on user inputs.
In the typical U.S. tradition, each of the two political parties will hold primary debates and pick a winner, after which a series of debates will pitch the two final candidates against each other in a closely-watched head-to-head debate nearer to the actual election in November 2016.