5 Crucial Things to Know Before Tonight’s GOP Presidential Debate

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The national spotlight turns to Cleveland, Ohio tonight as Republican candidates for president step onto the debate stage, hoping against hope to dethrone the current frontrunner—Donald Trump.

The real estate mogul stunned pundits on both sides of the political spectrum with his comments on illegal immigration and Senator John McCain, but voters rewarded Trump with a commanding lead in the polls. With the other candidates trying to usurp Mr. Trump’s position, there will be a lot of subtext to tonight’s dialogue. Here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Megyn Kelly, Brett Baer, and Chris Wallace will serve as moderators. They will ask roughly 50 questions over the two-hour program, despite having written nearly 100.

2. Fox News is hosting the debate, with Facebook as a co-sponsor.

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3. Each candidate recorded a question directed towards their competitors and sent them into Fox News. Expect to see them during the debate.

4. The candidates have one minute to respond to questions and 30 seconds for rebuttals. The latter may prove necessary if personal attacks are levied between candidates; a likely scenario given #3.

5. Celebrity billionaire Donald Trump brings an unprecedented level of uncertainty to the GOP field, leading analysts and commentators to speculate on whether he will actually adhere to the time limits and debate rules.  (Source: New York Times, August 5, 2015.)

Another detail to remember is that not all candidates will be on stage for the main debate. With 17 declared candidates, Fox News decided to only host the ten highest polling candidates. Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Jim Gilmore, Carly Fiorina, and Lindsey Graham will take the stage at 5:00 p.m. E.T. for what some are belittling as the ‘junior varsity’ debate.

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