The clock is winding down toward the first Republican presidential debate, set for Aug. 6 in Cleveland, and the anxiety level around pretty much every candidate not named Donald Trump is palpable.
Sixteen major GOP candidates are jockeying for 10 slots, and the antics are intensifying.
Fox News, which is hosting the first debate with Facebook, has said the top 10 candidates from an average of the five most recent national polls, "as recognized by Fox News,” will be eligible to debate.
“Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques,” Fox has also said.
But, specifically, which polls meet Fox’s criteria?
“That’s the most closely guarded secret in America,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.
But this first debate sets the table for the rest of the campaign – both in media exposure and in fundraising. Clips from that first debate will be replayed ad nauseum for days after the actual event, magnifying its importance.
“For some of [the candidates], if they can’t get on the debate stage, and stay on the debate stage, there’s no way they’re going to get the nomination or get the fundraising to get the nomination,” says Mr. O’Connell.