strong>LAS VEGAS — For the first time since her campaign launched six months ago, Hillary Clinton will be on a level playing field with the other Democrats running for the nomination, as she stands next to them at the party's first presidential debate on Tuesday.

Until now, the Democratic front-runner has made an effort to downplay the other candidates and even avoid mentioning their names when possible. But there she will be on stage with Bernie Sanders, her main rival for the nomination, along with Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, all of whom will be looking for attention. And then there is Joe Biden, the man who won't be there.

The Democrats have promised to keep the debate as civil as possible and CNN's moderator Anderson Cooper stated that he was against the "notion of setting people up in order to kind of promote some sort of a face-off."

The controversy over Clinton's use private email server while secretary of state has cast a shadow over her campaign. But she continues to lead in the polls outside of New Hampshire and her Democratic opponents have hesitated to attack her. She is an experienced debater who went head to head with Barack Obama in 26 debates during the 2008 primaries.

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