Time is running out for Fox News to make its choice
Fox News has announced the first Republican presidential debate will be held this Thursday August 6 in Cleveland Ohio. Yet it has not said who will be participating.
It has long been known that in the crowded field of contenders, only those doing the best will get a podium. The terms of the debate state “the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls” will be invited. The rest will quickly become ‘also-rans’.
Who those top ten candidates are is anyone’s guest. Fox made a point to never distinguish which five polls it will consider. The numbers vary widely and now with Donald Trump in the mix, it is little wonder the cable network is hesitating.
“The network has much more control in a primary debate — and even more so in this case because of the winnowing [of candidates],” said Mitchell McKinney, a professor at the University of Missouri.
The GOP debate is sure to be a logistical nightmare. Campaign operators have been nagging Fox over every single detail – the position of the candidates, the airtime allowed to each debater, the order to in which they are allowed to respond.
Political pundits have also been asking pesky questions, typically about how the three moderators will possibly be able to control ten highly opinionated people. Or more specifically, how will the moderators control Donald Trump?
Little more than one month has passed since he announced his intentions to run and Trump is already surging in the polls. Hopes that he would take some huge political misstep and disappear have proven futile. With no political donors to appease (Trump is financing his own candidacy) and unwavering confidence, Trump has inexplicably jumped to the top of the polls.
On the plus side, far more people will be likely to watch if Trump is allowed to participate.
“The build-up to this is quite enormous in terms of giving us a reason to tune in. But for candidates, is it a sensible approach to snipe at one another or to be the most bombastic?” said McKinney.
The cut off time for polling figures will be five o’clock on Tuesday, August 4. Until then, Republican candidates will have to do all they can to get noticed.