It’s the eve of the first Republican presidential debate – what could we see?

August 22 – The first debate for Republican candidates in the 2024 election will be held tomorrow at 9pm on Fox News. 

The Republican National Committee has opted to use only Fox as its platform for the debate, which will be held in Wisconsin. 

The RNC required candidates to meet a number of conditions in order to participate, including benchmarks in polling and donor numbers. Each candidate also had to sign a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee for president. 

Those expected to be on the stage are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina; former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley; Vivek Ramaswamy; former Vice President Mike Pence; former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum; and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Former president Donald Trump will not be in attendance. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “I think that DeSantis still has the most to lose. He’s been the most disappointing candidate thus far. His poll numbers keep sagging. He has spent more money than any other candidate and there was that debate strategy memo that leaked over the weekend from one of his PACs where they’re saying that he needs to praise Trump but attack Ramaswamy, attack the media, no more than four attacks on Joe Biden. It almost seems robotic the things that some of these people are programmed to do. So keep an eye on him. Christie is going to come out swinging against Trump. Of all the candidates, he’s the one most critical of Trump.”

What about the lower tier candidates? 

Barkdoll said, “Often someone has a moment and it’s going to be one of these unknown people, maybe it’s Doug Burgum, the governor from North Dakota. Maybe it is Asa Hutchinson or maybe it may be Tim Scott.”

Fox News has banned any Trump staff from attending. 

Barkdoll said, “There’s a spin room that they all get in after the debate to spin their candidate. Fox has taken the position, ‘Trump you’re not participating, we’re therefore not allowing your surrogates to come into the post-debate spin room.’”

Trump will have a sit-down interview with Tucker Carlson at the same time tomorrow night. 

Barkdoll added, “He’s also going to turn himself in to the Fulton County jail on Thursday morning. Again, this is very strategic. A lot of observers are pointing out that this will essentially eliminate the post-debate news coverage that would naturally follow on Thursday morning because all of the focus will now be on Trump going into that jail.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “I’m surprised that Newsmax who is doing a lot of crowing about Fox these days in particular day parts here. I’m surprised that Newsmax hasn’t done something a little bit more aggressive. How do we pull Trump in? Or how do we get a little bit of air under our network sails?”

“I agree,” Barkdoll said. “I don’t know where this all goes. We talked yesterday about this report that Glenn Youngkin may be running for president. Part of the reporting is that the Murdoch family, the chairman, the founder, the majority owner of Fox, he’s also pushing Youngkin to get into the race. It seems like Fox has sort of turned on Trump. Trump’s been very openly critical of Fox. He doesn’t feel that he’s getting any favorable coverage from them. He even complained over the weekend that Fox was using unflattering pictures of Trump in their news coverage. Why hasn’t Newsmax or one of these other platforms tried to step in there and do something? But so far, everyone sits back, even the RNC, they seem to defer entirely to Fox News.”

Fox will be hosting the second debate in a few weeks that will be held in the Reagan Library in California. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “You even feel like there’s a narrative being set up here, even by the insiders in the RNC. The Uni-Party, the people that have been there forever, they’re not keen on Trump. Are we starting to get the message? Do people understand? You’re not being given a choice here. Look at how it’s coordinated to help Trump by getting rid of any post-debate stuff. They’re giving all the debates, both debates to just one news channel, and Fox has been criticized when they ejected Tucker Carlson, still without explanation. They say and what you hear in the undercurrents from people who talk to insiders in there and Megyn Kelly has a lot of insiders in that organization and she’s reported, they decided they don’t want Trump to win. They don’t want somebody who might promote Trump and I think Tucker could and didn’t promote Trump. I think he was critical and promoting, but all these news organizations seem to be going along with controlling a narrative here.”

Barkdoll said, “I think the RNC made a huge mistake giving Fox the exclusive rights to these first two debates. I think they would have been smart to deliberately put one on CNN or MSNBC or Newsmax. There’s any number of other options they had. Not coincidentally, I saw this morning reporting that starting Thursday and going forward, Biden is going to start putting ad dollars and his surrogates on Fox News. We know that this is the secret to trying to peel off some undecided or moderate voters but so far, the RNC doesn’t seem to be buying into that idea.”