Fox News has secured rights to the the first debate of the Republican Party’s presidential nominating process, set to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin later this year.
The debate, which will coincide with the national party’s summer meeting in August, may encompass up to two nights of political theater according to RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. When asked about the possibility, she said, “We’ll put the criteria out soon. We don’t know how many candidates there’s going to be so that will dictate whether there’s one or two stages. Right now I don’t see there being two stages but I could be wrong on that. The field’s forming later than usual.”
As the fields of presidential candidates for both parties have grown over the years, debates have taken center stage as contenders vie for airtime and the chance to instantly catapult to frontrunner status. The GOP held 12 debates in the 2016 election season with some requiring two stages to accommodate a record 17 candidates.
Recent polls have former President Donald Trump easily leading a field that so far includes former Trump ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and businessman Perry Johnson of Michigan. A number of other high-profile Republicans are publicly mulling bids, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, former Vice President Mike Pence, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. Scott on Wednesday announced the formation of an exploratory committee, a step that allows a candidate to test the waters for resources before making an official announcement.
The RNC’s first debate will be sponsored by Young America’s Foundation and Rumble, with the latter securing streaming rights.
Asked if she would require all candidates to back the GOP’s nominee, McDaniel demurred saying, “it’s about beating Joe Biden. It’s about beating what’s happening in this country right now. And we can only do that united, so we want every candidate to pledge that heading into this process.”