Donald Trump has surged to the top of the Republican presidential field on the strength of his unpredictable and unforgiving rhetoric toward his own GOP running mates.
Now the question for the other candidates is how to avoid letting Trump turn the first Republican debate on August 6 into yet another platform that he dominates, which could let him consolidate his lead even more.
Trump's ability to climb the ladder has shocked not only his Republican foes, but also those in the media, who are now struggling to figure out how Trump will factor in the debate that many other candidates are hoping can be less about Trump, and more about them for a change.
One major issue is whether Trump, who is quick to interrupt and publicly insult any critic as a "loser" or "idiot," will adhere to traditional (though loosely defined) presidential debate decorum. Some say it just won't happen.
Washington Post politics blogger Chris Cillizza wrote in June that the "lack of rule-following" by Trump "will ensure that Trump is a big part of any story written of the debates or any other forum where multiple presidential candidates are present." He called Trump the "car-accident candidate."
It's possible that the debate moderators can control Trump. Fox anchors Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly, all seasoned TV anchors, are confirmed to moderate the debate.
But some implied it's going to be a difficult job.
"I mean, that's going to be up to Fox," said ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, who was recently cut off by President Obama when he attempted to ask a Trump-related question. "They've got the first debate. But clearly [Trump] will be in that debate. He's a declared candidate. And he's leading in several of the polls. You can't really ignore him, can you?"
In a column for the Independent Journalism Review, Republican strategist Rick Wilson, a Trump detractor, said the real estate maven "is a man who loves the snide ad hominem" and is almost certain to engage in personal attacks on the debate stage.
An aide to one of the leading Republican presidential campaigns, speaking on condition of anonymity, questioned whether the debate would be all about Trump taking on his current main rival: Jeb Bush.
"Jeb Bush has been Trump's top target and it will be interesting to see how Bush handles the sharp attacks on the debate stage," she said. "Will Jeb Bush be in a position to have to respond to all of Donald Trump's lines of attack?"
Since announcing his candidacy in June, Trump headlines have saturated almost every news cycle, starting with his controversial comment about many illegal immigrants being "rapists," and his more recent off-the-cuff remark that seemed to question John McCain's status as a "war hero."
On Tuesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich became the 16th Republican to jump into the race. The announcement was almost completely overshadowed by a news conference by Trump, during which he held up a piece of paper that showed the cell phone number for Lindsey Graham, another GOP presidential candidate who has called Trump a "jackass."
"He doesn't seem like a very bright guy," Trump said of Graham.
The media's attention to Trump has been to the detriment of other lesser-known candidates like Carly Fiorina, who have tried increasing their own profiles as to have a shot at a place in the first debate.
Trump, who has not backed down from any of his public statements, despite repeated calls for him to withdraw from the race, did not return a request for comment.