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Editorial: All eyes are on the GOP debate tonight

The first debates of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign opens tonight with two events in Cleveland. Many people - Republicans, Democrats and Independents - will be watching this first national televised appearance by these GOP candidates.

The first debates of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign opens tonight with two events in Cleveland. Many people - Republicans, Democrats and Independents - will be watching this first national televised appearance by these GOP candidates.

The early seven candidates, as determined by Fox News’ compilation of various national polls, begin their debate at 4 p.m. CDT. This second-tier includes Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George pataki and Jim Gilmore.

The top ten group, determined by the same national poll compilation, will begin their debate at 8 p.m. CDT. This group includes Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich.

The billionaire Trump will be the focal point of those on stage as well as those in the audience and watching on television. It will be his first prime-time political appearance, and he has a lot riding on his performance. He has defied most pundits so far and has built an early lead in many polls.

Many will be watching how the other candidates react to Trump, the wild card in the race and the current polls leader.

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Some candidates were not pleased with the debate’s selection process.

“The process employed by Fox News and the (Republican National Committee) is incredibly flawed,” said Santorum’s spokesman.

A Jindal spokeswoman said simply “The governor will debate anyone anywhere at any time.”

“We never ever envisioned we’d have 17 major candidates,” said Steve Duprey, RNC committee member from New Hampshire. “There’s no perfect solution.”

Granted, this is not a good political process for the politicians or the RNC at this point, but it will work for most Americans as they will get a look, even if it is in one-minute segments, of the candidates.

This debate is the first of six scheduled debates for Republican candidates prior to the start of the primary season of 2016. The Democratic National Committee has announced plans for six debates for its candidates in the fall of 2015.

The challenge for every GOP candidate tonight in not to stumble, stay on a clear message, hope they don’t get trumped and survive to campaign another day.

The futures of some of these candidates may be determined by what they say - or don’t say - tonight.

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It will be interesting as all eyes of political gurus and citizens tonight will be on the Republican candidates on stage in Cleveland.

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