donald trump.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Gage Skidmore, used under CC BY-SA

This time there will be seven Republicans on the stage, and this time, Donald Trump will be among them.

The last debate before the New Hampshire primary was set to be held Saturday at 8 pm (0100 Sunday GMT) in Manchester, New Hampshire, the largest city in the north-eastern US state.

The field of candidates has shrunk since the Iowa caucuses on Monday. After poor showings in that contest, two candidates - US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee - dropped out.

Trump leads the polls ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary and will stand at the centre of the debate stage.

The billionaire businessman boycotted the last debate before the Iowa caucuses, and later admitted that might have cost him some votes. He finished second in Iowa behind US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who will be looking to build on that victory.

US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida came third in Iowa and is seen as a rising force in the race.

Also participating are former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

The only candidate still actively running who was not invited to participate in Saturday's debate is Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina, a former executive at technology company Hewlett-Packard, criticized ABC, the network hosting the debate, for excluding her in a video released by her campaign.

The results of the New Hampshire primary are expected to determine whether more of the Republican candidates drop out.

Unlike the caucuses in Iowa, the primary is not organized by the political parties but by the state government.

All registered voters, not just registered Democrats and Republicans, can take part. There is a high number of voters who are independent - neither Republican nor Democrat - in New Hampshire and they can vote for any candidate.

Among the Democrats, Bernie Sanders, a US senator from the neighbouring state of Vermont, leads former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in the polls.

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