Dec 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

CNN to host two GOP primary debates in January

Republican presidential candidates during the fourth GOP presidential primary debate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Dec. 6. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

CNN is planning to host two Republican primary debates in Iowa and New Hampshire next month, the network announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The first debate is set to take place before the Iowa caucuses, and the second is scheduled days before the New Hampshire primary, giving voters a final chance to hear from the candidates before voting begins.

Driving the news: CNN is planning to host a GOP primary debate on Jan. 10 at Drake University, less than one week before the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses.

  • CNN's second debate is scheduled for Jan. 21 at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, before the state's Jan. 23 primary.

Driving the news: Candidates seeking to qualify for the Iowa debate must receive at least 10% in three national or Iowa polls of Republican caucusgoers or primary voters, and be approved by the network.

  • At least one of the polls must be of likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers.
  • The qualification requirements are similar for the New Hampshire debate. Candidates must receive at least 10% in three national or New Hampshire polls of Republican primary voters.
  • The candidates who finish in the top three spots at the Iowa caucuses will be invited to participate in the New Hampshire debate, the network said.

Zoom in: The polling for debate eligibility in Iowa must have begun no earlier than Oct. 15 and released no later than Jan. 2.

  • New Hampshire polling must have begun no earlier than Nov. 1 and released no later than Jan. 16.

What to watch: The Republican National Committee is expected to announce this week that it will allow presidential hopefuls to participate in debates that are not organized or sanctioned by the RNC, per CNN.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis already indicated that he plans to participate in the CNN debates, according to a post on the social media platform X.

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