At this point, the second presidential primary debate will include 16 of the 17 declared GOP candidates. Unless he gets his poll numbers up, the debate at the Reagan Library on Sept. 16 will not include former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. That’s because CNN is requiring at least 1 percent support in three national polls by Sept. 10. Former first lady Nancy Reagan sent out invitations to the top 16 candidates.
CNN’s Jake Tapper will moderate two debates on that day: one with the Top 10 GOP candidates and another with the rest. Fox News also produced two debates last week, with two different sets of moderators. CNN’s debates will air back-to-back, not split between the late afternoon and prime time, as was the case on Fox.
Fox drew massive numbers for both events last Thursday, with the “happy hour” debate drawing 6.1 million viewers, making it the third most-watched primary debate ever on cable, and 24 million for the prime time event, which was the most-watched non-sports cable program ever.