After the high drama surrounding Donald Trump last week’s Iowa Republican debate, political junkies have just one question — when is the New Hampshire Republican debate? And indeed, the Republican candidates will gather once again — for the eighth time in the 2016 presidential campaign — prior to the New Hampshire primary, the first primary election that actually sees voters from both parties go to the polls, rather than to caucus gatherings.
But there will be some differences this time, thanks to New Hampshire Republican debate sponsor and broadcaster ABC News, who plan some changes to the debate format and rules used by other networks.
With ABC News at the controls, the New Hampshire Republican debate will be the first carried by a major, over-the-air broadcast network. The first seven debates were all carried by basic cable news outlets, including two by Fox News, whose lead anchor Megyn Kelly has sparked outrage from Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
It was the presence of Kelly that caused Trump to turn his back on the Fox News Iowa debate on January 28, instead staging his own, competing event that Trump claimed would be a fundraiser for veterans’ causes.
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But with Fox News out of the picture, Kelly will not be a moderator in New Hampshire, where the debate will take place at St. Anselm’s College Institute of Politics. Instead, ABC News World News Tonight Anchor David Muir and the ABC veteran global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, along with Josh McElveen of Manchester, New Hampshire, TV Station and debate co-sponsor WMUR, will act as moderators.
Without Kelly, Trump is expected to take the debate stage once again, this time in Manchester, New Hampshire, to go toe-to-toe with his Republican rivals.
To see what a 2016 Republican debate without Donald Trump looks like, watch highlights of Thursday’s Iowa Fox News debate in the video below.
ABC has tightened up the criteria by which candidates will qualify for the New Hampshire Republican debate. To make the main stage, candidates must meet one of three criteria.
• A candidate must finish in the top three in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.
• Or, a candidate could place in the top six in an average of national polls.
•Or, finally, a candidate could place in the top six in New Hampshire polling.
But unlike in previous debates, candidates who fail to make the cut will simply be eliminated. ABC, at least as of Sunday, had no plans to stage an “undercard” debate in which lower-polling Republicans get a chance to make their case on national TV.
As a result, at least four Republican candidates look likely to be left out in the New Hampshire cold at the next debate. Those appear to be Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Ohio Governor John Kasich, the most moderate candidate in a largely ultra-conservative field, is holding his own in New Hampshire polls despite a negligible presence in the national polling, and appears to stand a good chance of qualifying to appear in the New Hampshire debate.
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) January 26, 2016
The New Hampshire primary is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, just three days after the Republican Debate in that state. With 23 delegates at stake, the lions share is expected to go to Donald Trump, who leads the New Hampshire field, and according to FiveThirtyEight.com, has a 52 percent chance of winning the primary.
But Trump still trails likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on a nationwide head-to-head contest, as the shadow of Clinton hangs over the whole Republican field. In an average of national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, Clinton holds a 2.7 percentage point lead over Trump.
So when is the New Hampshire Republican debate? The debate is scheduled for Saturday, February 6, with ABC Coverage beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time in Manchester, New Hampshire. Live streaming options for online viewers have yet to be confirmed, but will likely include ABC News Go at this link.
[Featured Photo By Photo by Andrew Burton / Getty Images]