Fox News and Facebook Partner for First GOP Primary Debate

By Chris Ariens 

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It begins.

Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace will moderate the first Republican presidential primary debate in conjunction with the Ohio Republican Party August 6 at 9pmET, live from Cleveland.

This is a later start to the GOP debates than in the 2012 cycle when the first debate was held May 5 on Fox News, with a second June 13 on CNN.

The debate will incorporate Facebook data on the issues of the day. “Facebook’s scale and foundation in real identity give Fox News and the Republican contenders for the nomination the opportunity to open up the debate to Americans in a new and unique way,” said Andy Mitchell, Director of News and Global Media Partnerships at Facebook.

Fox News evp Michael Clemente announced the entry criteria: All debate participants must place in the top 10 of the 5 most recent polls by August 4 (but that doesn’t mean there is a cap of only 10 participants. A tie could lead to 11, or even 12.) They must also meet U.S. Constitutional requirements, must have announced and registered a formal campaign, filed with the FEC and paid all filing fees.

Clemente says Fox News will provide coverage and airtime on August 6 to candidates who don’t make the debate cut.

“We are thrilled to host the first debate in Ohio,” said Matt Borges, Chairman of the Ohio GOP. “A Republican can’t win the White House without carrying our state, so there’s no better place to host the first primary debate.”