As Early Debate Begins, Drama Surrounds the Big Event

By Mark Joyella 

As CNN opened its 6 p.m. ET Republican debate, the focus was clearly not on the four candidates set to participate, but the big event still two hours away. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump had yet to arrive at the Reagan Library, creating some drama for CNN and the candidates.

As Politico’s Hadas Gold described it:

CNN and Reagan Library staff said that unlike all the other candidates, Trump had not coordinated with them about his arrival. While other candidates had all walked through the stage with CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, and some, like Marco Rubio even had time to tour Reagan’s Air Force One, Trump sent a staff member in his place to do the walk through.

“By all accounts, this is going to be a lively, lively evening,” said Wolf Blitzer as CNN opened coverage ahead of the lower-tier debate. “It is electric right here in the auditorium,” said Anderson Cooper.