When is the next Republican presidential debate? The schedule was announced last month by Fox News, the network that hosted the first debate between Donald Trump and the rest if the GOP field way back on August 6 of last year. That Republican debate, coming at a time when Trump was still largely an unknown commodity in political terms, drew an astonishing 24 million viewers — the most ever for a non-sport broadcast on a basic cable network.
Fox will be looking to top that ratings triumph when Trump, now the clear Republican frontrunner and GOP standard-bearer, storms into Iowa to fend off another round of verbal attacks from his closest rival, ultra-conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and four more candidates yet to be determined. The next debate will be the last on the Republican schedule before the first official balloting of the 2016 primary election, the Iowa caucuses on February 1.
Trump takes a commanding lead in Iowa polling into the debate, which is to take place at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, January 28. The real estate mogul and reality TV personality is currently outpacing Cruz by 11 percentage points in the latest CNN poll released Thursday.
Caucuses differ from elections, in which individual voters cast private, secret ballots. Caucuses consist of group gatherings where voters assemble in groups and cast their votes out in the open, often by a raising of hands.
But despite his 37-26 lead among likely Iowa caucus attendees, a closer look at the polling could spell trouble for Trump in Iowa, making Thursday’s next Republican debate more important for the Atlantic City casino owner than it might appear at first glance.
According to CNN, when only the responses of Iowans who attended the most recent Republican caucus there are counted — that is, those voters who may be the most likely to turn up at the caucuses — Cruz actually holds a slim lead over Trump, 30 percent to 28 percent, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio placing third at 16 percent.
In fact, the respected election-predicting site FiveThirtyEight.com favors Cruz to win the Iowa caucuses, bringing in about 26 percent of the vote there to just a fraction over 23 percent for Trump.
The two have become bitter rivals, with Trump attacking Cruz in the most recent Republican debate January 14 for being Canadian by birth, while Cruz struck back by slamming what he called Trump’s “New York values.”
The next Republican debate is expected to feature even more vitriolic back-and-forth attacks between the frontrunner, Trump, and his top rival. For a preview, see highlights of the January 14 debate in the video below, or watch that entire debate in the video at the bottom of this page.
Fox News is adding a new feature to the next Republican debate, partnering with Google and YouTube not only to stream the debate live but to pose questions based on trending searches and topics on the internet’s busiest search engine.
But from a perspective of pure entertainment, perhaps the best feature of the next Republican debate will be not something new, but something that will be the same as the first time around for Fox — moderator Megyn Kelly.
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In the August 6 debate, Kelly challenged Trump to defend what she called his history of sexist and demeaning remarks towards women, asking him why women should vote for him after he has referred publicly to various women as “‘fat pigs’, ‘dogs’, ‘slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals.”
Trump in subsequent interviews and Twitter postings slammed Kelly as “dopey” and “overrated,” and in an interview shortly after the August debate, appeared to claim that Kelly became overly emotional during the debate because she was on her menstrual period.
“There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever,” Trump asserted.
The next Republican debate is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern Time, 6 p.m. Pacific, on Thursday, January 28, and will be broadcast as well as streamed live online by Fox News. To qualify, candidates must place in the top six positions in an average of the five most recent nationwide polls. Fox News will announce the final Republican debate lineup on Tuesday, January 26.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]