The Trump Primary

The new GOP debate: whether to embrace the reality TV-ization of the campaign

Illustration by Mickey Duzyj for TIME

It has been clear for a while that the Republican primary campaign is a reality-TV show. The question has been, Which one? (Herman Cain's Cheaters? Rick Perry's Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?)

For much of the year, the political press has been covering it as The Bachelor. In the campaign's most overused media metaphor, pundits argued that the GOP electorate was "dating" one alternative after another--Michele Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Newt Gingrich--but would eventually tender its rose to the steady, if unexciting, Mitt Romney.

Never one to be ignored, Donald Trump--casino mogul, TV host and Obama-birth-certificate obsessive--is recasting the race...

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