Seconds Out, Round Three
In case it had slipped your mind, the third Republican presidential debate is tonight, Wednesday, October 28, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. It is being broadcast live from the Coors Events Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder, a venue more accustomed to hosting 11,000 basketball fans than political gatherings.
Thanks to the intervention of Donald Trump and Ben Carson who threatened to withdraw if the debate was not shortened, it will run for only two hours (including commercial breaks). The two top contenders jointly signed a letter that Trump then forwarded to the TV network.
CNBC had little choice but to agree. For one thing the request made sense, three hours is far, far too long for a political debate. In addition the TV network knew that without Trump in the show their ratings would have fallen by at least an extra ten million viewers.
No offence to the rest of the candidates, but they couldn’t hold my attention for more than 3 minutes let alone three hours.
Opening And Closing Statements
CNBC also agreed to allow opening and/or closing statements by each candidate. Representatives from the campaigns of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush have also all called for this element to be included. This is the best way to summarize a candidate’s case, without interruptions and on their terms, rather than having to respond to a question that was not of their choosing.
CNBC says the debate will concentrate on economic issues, including taxes, retirement spending, and job growth. These are policy areas where Donald trump is known to be strong.
The line-up will be the same as the previous debate, with the exception of Scott Walker who has withdrawn from the race. It will consist of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, and John Kasich.
Because of his polling numbers Donald Trump again takes center stage for the debate, though with an even number of candidates, Carson also will appear in the center. To Trump’s right will be Rubio, Bush, Huckabee, and Kasich. To Carson’s left will be Fiorina, Cruz, Christie, and Paul.
The three CNBC moderators are John Harwood, the chief Washington correspondent, Becky Quick, co-anchor of the Wall Street-focused show “Squawk Box,” and Quick’s co-anchor, Carl Quintanilla.
Trump Ambush, Or A Fair Debate?
We will know after tonight whether CNBC have managed to do what Fox failed to achieve in the first debate, that is, host a fair debate without any loaded questions or attempted ambushes.
As regards how the other candidates will behave, that’s anyone’s guess. They should know by now that if they try to take on Trump he is more than capable of hitting back, so this time they might think better of it.
Whatever happens, it should be another interesting night’s TV.