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CLEVELAND, Ohio — A year from now, Republicans will have nominated their candidate at the 2016 Republican National Committee (RNC) convention here. But tonight, the opening salvo of what’s likely to be a bruising and brutal presidential primary process for all involved begins, and the wounds afflicting the party—a Civil War between moderates and conservatives—will be on display for the world to see in the first of many coming 2016 GOP presidential primary debates.


Center stage at 9 p.m. Eastern time will be GOP frontrunner billionaire businessman Donald Trump, flanked on either side by the rest of the top 10 of the GOP field: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sens. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

, and world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.


Nobody in politics thought Trump would be polling as well as he is—he’s the runaway frontrunner in every poll that’s come out over the last six weeks—at this stage in the game. Long knives from his various opponents—especially Bush and Rubio—will be out to get him. Bush, reportedly, thinks Trump is an “a**hole” and a “clown.”


But Trump’s persona aside, his rise highlights the deeper divide that’s been brewing inside the GOP for the last several election cycles. Conservatives are furious with the more moderate wing of the party—the Establishment—for having nominated weak candidates who couldn’t win against Barack Obama, the Democratic president, in the last two cycles. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, lost the 2012 election after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) lost the 2008 election. Conservatives feel like both were winnable, especially the 2012 one.



Let's get ready to rumble!

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