Thursday, April 18, 2024

Preview: First Republican Presidential Debate

It’s early – 459 days from Election Day, to be exact – to deeply speculate on who the next president of our United States will be. But don’t tell that to the GOP, whose crowded field of 17 presidential hopefuls will take to the debate stage in Cleveland on Thursday via Fox News. The Republican primary debate is poised to offer a first glimpse into the spectacle that has become the GOP nomination, as headlines and airwaves buzz with guesstimates of “who will say what?” or “what policy issues will be highlighted?” or “what about Donald Trump?!”

“Our field is the biggest and most diverse of any party in history and I am glad to see that every one of those extremely qualified candidates will have the opportunity to participate on Thursday evening,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said. “Republicans across the country will be able to choose which candidate has earned their support after hearing them talk through the issues.”

But not all the candidates will receive primetime attention on the Fox News broadcast. The so-called “Happy-Hour Debate,” kicking off at 5pm EST, will play host to the seven lowest polling candidates: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; former HP CEO Carly Fiorina; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; former New York Gov. George Pataki; and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. The primetime event at 9pm EST will see the likes of Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

All eyes will be on Mr. Trump, however, whose bombastic style and oft-distasteful comments have both riled his Party’s extreme wing and struck fear in the heart of the Republican establishment. It will be his debate to win and lose, where a focus will be placed on his substantive policy opinions, his recently divulged conversation with Bill Clinton, and his Republican opponents’ responses to Mr. Trump himself.

In the same stadium where LeBron James throws down emphatic dunks for his hometown Cavaliers, it seems only fitting that the debates set to unfold tonight on Fox will hinge on preparation, reflex, and an eye for the dramatic.

Fox News