Fox Business Network is gearing up for its second GOP debate after the first edition was watched by 13.5 million total viewers and 3.7 million in the key A25-54 demo. Trish Regan and Sandra Smith are set to moderate the early GOP debate on Thursday at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center. The early debate will include Carly Fiorina, Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. Rick Santorum.
The prime time debate will include Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, and Govs. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich. One presidential candidate won’t be in either debate: Rand Paul, who refuses to participate in the debate for lower tier candidates. We caught up with Regan for her thoughts on Paul’s decision, if she’ll moderate prime time debates in the future and what she’ll eat in North Charleston.
TVNewser: Do you think Rand Paul’s frustrations are justified?
Regan: The decision is just math. We announced the criteria for qualifying and Senator Paul’s numbers simply didn’t add up. The reality is, candidates go up and down in the polls and the best way to improve is to let America hear your message. Governor Chris Christie certainly proved this to be true. He excelled in our first Fox Business debate and will be now be on the main stage. Our debate provides candidates with an audience of millions. So, if Rand Paul wants to say, “I’m going to take my ball and go home,” then he’s missing out on a huge opportunity.
TVNewser: Isn’t it time for some of these early debate candidates to drop out already anyway?
Regan: I grew up in New Hampshire where voters change their minds right up until the minute they head into the voting booths. This is politics, anything can happen. The fact that we’ve had so many candidates in this race has helped to engage the American people in a way that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
TVNewser: What did you take away from moderating November’s debate that will help the second time around?
Regan: Candidates that are truly prepared, answer the questions and are comfortable onstage will excel. This race isn’t over so, there’s still plenty of opportunity and I’m looking forward to who could else emerge as a contender. As for how I’m preparing differently for this debate? I do think the dynamic will be different. There are fewer candidates onstage so that will provide more opportunities for some back-and-forth between them. Also, keep in mind, while the first debate was primarily focused on the economy, this one will cover a broader range of topics.
TVNewser: If FBN continues to put on successful debates, do you expect to be a prime time moderator by 2020?
Regan: Honestly, I’m not thinking about anything except 6 p.m. on Thursday night. I leave those kinds of decisions to Roger [Ailes] and I am thrilled to be part of this debate and the FBN team.
TVNewser: Any specific meals planned for your trip to North Charleston?
Regan: Not yet. We’ve been working around the clock so, so far, it’s just been a lot of ordering in.
TVNewser: We’ve heard good things about The Barbeque Joint if you need inspiration. Anyway, are you buying a Powerball ticket?