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Trump got top billing for the first Republican debate - one of his opponents is livid

The line-up for the debate is “preposterous” says Rick Santorum.

FOX NEWS HAS announced the line-up for the first US presidential debate of the 2016 Republican primary cycle – with the governor of the state hosting the event narrowly snatching the final spot.

The broadcaster, which will airs the debate live tomorrow evening, said ten candidates will take the stage at a Cleveland, Ohio arena, led by billionaire real-estate tycoon Donald Trump, who currently tops the Republican field.

The candidates on stage will be — in order of their rank in the national polling average as determined by Fox:

  • Trump
  • Former Florida governor Jeb Bush
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
  • Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee
  • Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson
  • US Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich

Donald Trump visits Scotland Donald Trump Source: PA WIRE

With 17 major Republicans in the race for their party’s nomination, seven candidates will be on an undercard forum that airs four hours before the main debate, which kicks off earlier in the evening.

Those who missed the main debate cut are former Texas governor Rick Perry, former senator Rick Santorum, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Hewlett-Packard boss Carly Fiorina, Senator Lindsey Graham, New York ex-governor George Pataki and former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore.

Fox compiled its average from national polls conducted by five organizations: Bloomberg, CBS, Fox, Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University.

Perry put on a brave face after narrowly missing out, saying on Twitter he looked forward to joining the earlier debate “for what will be a serious exchange of ideas & positive solutions to get America back on track”.

However, Santorum’s not taking things lying down…

“The idea that they have left out the runner-up for the 2012 nomination [Santorum], the former four-term governor of Texas [Perry], the governor of Louisiana [Jindal], the first female Fortune 50 CEO [Fiorina], and the 3-term Senator from South Carolina [Graham] due to polling seven months before a single vote is cast is preposterous,” his spokesman said.

Santorum 2012 Florida Rick Santorum Source: Associated Press

The brash and combative Trump has taken a commanding lead in polls and will be front and centre tomorrow night.

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He and others will have a prime opportunity to lay out specifics of their economic and foreign policy platforms.

And with political experts noting the importance of making a good first impression in the opening debate, candidates will be weighing just how much to go on attack mode against one another.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton leads four other Democrats in their nomination race.

No dates have been decided for their debut debate, which is expected to occur later in the year.

© AFP, 2015 with reporting from Daragh Brophy.

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