Donald Trump will take centre stage at tonight's Republican presidential debate, Fox News confirmed last night as it announced the 10 candidates who would participate.
The field of 17 candidates was sliced to ten using an average of national polls, a format which leaves the lone woman in the race shut out of the debate.
Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, will be relegated to an "undercard debate" along with six other candidates currently lagging behind in the polls.
With Hillary Clinton firmly in command on the Democrat side, some Republican strategists privately worry about the contrasting visual of ten men representing their party on national television.
The unprecedented decision to slice the field in two had caused attention to shift this week from the top of the polls, where Mr Trump is only expanding his lead, to the battle for tenth place.
Getting onto the debate stage will provide much needed national exposure to candidates struggling to gain a foothold in the race, and decimal points in the polls determined who will get that opportunity.
Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, and John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, ultimately snatched the coveted final two places.
Rick Perry, the former Texas governor, narrowly missed the cut. His campaign memorably collapsed in 2012 after he forgot his own platform during a debate, and he will not have the opportunity to redeem himself tonight.
Rick Santorum, the former senator who finished runner-up to Mitt Romney in 2012, is currently polling in twelfth, and is furious about his exclusion.
"It is an insult," he said "Fox should apologise to the candidates ... It is not their job, it is a decision which should rest with the Republican National Committee."
The polls will also be used to determine who stands where during the debate. Mr Trump will take centre stage, flanked by Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, who are currently running second and third.
Rounding out the field will be Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, and senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.
Mr Christie and Mr Kasich will be on the fringes of the stage, taking the final two spots in the high-stakes Republican presidential game of musical chairs.
Meanwhile, several news websites including the Huffington Post are quoting Trump as saying how he'd be happy to have Sarah Palin on his team.
He's reported as saying that he'd "love" to have the former Alaskan governor working in his administration if he's elected president.
"I'd love that because she really is somebody that knows what's happening and she's a special person," the Republican candidate is reported to have said on 'The Palin Update', an online interview show. "She's really a special person and I think people know that."
Trump didn't say whether he would consider Palin for a Cabinet-level post or some other role, but told host Kevin Scholla that she has "a following that's unbelievable." Palin's fans, he added, are always urging him to "get Sarah's support".
Trump also said that he and Palin have something in common. "Like me, she's got people that don't exactly love us and we understand who they are and sort of forget about that," Trump said. "But she has a tremendously loyal group of people out there for her."
Ms Palin, who is highly active on social media, has not yet responded to the overture. However, she has praised Trump in the past.(© Daily Telegraph, London)
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