The first presidential primary debate Thursday night has long been seen as an opportunity for the top Republican candidates to debut on the national stage and separate themselves from the unusually large field.
Instead, it has devolved into the Donald Trump show.
The debate is expected to be dominated by the billionaire celebrity candidate whose rise to the top of the polls has tapped populist discontent and sent shock waves through the Republican establishment.
Now, the candidates who hoped for a breakout moment have lowered expectations and simply want to survive what many fear will be a reality-show-like spectacle alongside the former star of “The Apprentice.”
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