Donald Trump, Billionaire and TV personality
His surge in the polls on the back of a tide of anti-immigration, anti-establishment sentiment is the biggest story of the Republican race so far. Bombastic, fearless and a barely plausible occupant of the White House, he is, as far as national polls are concerned, the Republican frontrunner.
Jeb Bush, Former governor, Florida
The choice of the pro-business Republican elite, he’s raised more than $100m but his (relatively) moderate brand of conservatism has failed to ignite the grassroots. Critics say he lacks punch, and he has stumbled when trying to distance himself from the two former presidents who are his brother and father.
Scott Walker, Governor, Wisconsin
Walker has built his reputation on surviving a gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin, a traditionally Democratic state. He is loathed by unions, and admired by Republicans as a result. He’s likely to do well in the first-in-the nation caucus in Iowa but has repeatedly seemed unprepared on foreign policy.
Ben Carson, Retired neurosurgeon
Were it not for his dabbling in politics, Carson would be best known for his achievement as the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins at birth. Instead, he’s become renowned as the trenchant conservative doctor who compared Obamacare to slavery.
Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing to happen to the nation since slavery. And it is slavery, in a way.
Mike Huckabee, Former governor, Arkansas
Huckabee’s appeal among Christian evangelicals helped win him the Iowa caucuses in 2008 before he eventually lost the nomination to John McCain. After a spell as a Fox TV host, he’s back, although his brand of social conservatism may have less appeal now that America’s culture wars have receded.
Ted Cruz, Senator, Texas
Self-appointed leader of the Tea Party, his uncompromising, far-right politics have made him one of the most polarising figures in the Senate. He exudes the spirit of a politician who relishes confrontation. He has raised a surprising amount of money and probably has the most to gain if (or when) Trump’s campaign implodes.
Marco Rubio, Senator, Florida
Rubio is the fresh-faced candidate that Beltway political insiders like to argue would have the widest appeal in a general election. A 44-year-old, smooth-talking son of Cuban immigrants, his stock has fallen since an ill-fated attempt to get immigration reform through Congress in 2013. He’s perhaps the dark horse to watch.
Rand Paul, Senator, Kentucky
Paul’s libertarian politics were supposed to make the former ophthalmologist the most interesting candidate in the race, promising to reshape the electoral map. Instead, he’s being described as the most disappointing, particularly among die-hard fans of his father, Ron Paul, a two-time Republican presidential candidate.
Chris Christie, Governor, New Jersey
This time last year the heavy-set, straight-talking blue state governor was everyone’s top tip for the White House. The scandal over the politically motivated closure of a New Jersey bridge put an end to all that. He remains a long-shot candidate, pinning all of his hopes on a good showing in New Hampshire.
John Kasich, Governor, Ohio
The last candidate to qualify to be on the stage, he narrowly avoided the ignominy of missing out on a debate in his home state. Appeals to a similar constituency in the party as Bush and Christie and would probably need both to collapse to stand a decent chance.
Seven candidates that didn’t make the cut because of they are languishing in the polls will participate in an earlier debate, also hosted by Fox News. They are: Texas governor Rick Perry, former businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, former New York governor George Pataki and former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore.