How to Prepare for the ‘Happy Hour’ Debates

By Brian Flood 

The next GOP debate is Dec. 15 on CNN. And while the debates have been trending downward in the ratings since the blockbuster start, they are still pulling in huge audiences, even for the earlier so-called “happy hour” debates. The most recent early GOP debate on FBN with moderators Sandra Smith and Trish Regan drew 4.7 million viewers. Smith and Regan talked about their part in the record-setting debates with People.

Pre-debate routine:

All three spent the day of the debate, plus the two days before, holed up in the workroom, doing much of what they had done for several weeks prior in New York City: reading the news, rewriting questions and researching economic policy.

In that pre-debate prep period, neither Smith nor Regan came face-to-face with the candidates. All the moderators and the candidates get ready in separate dressing rooms, but interaction between the two parties isn’t forbidden – it just didn’t happen this time around.

Reality for Smith:

“We spent all this time prepping for the debate, and thinking of the right questions to ask the right candidates,” Smith said. “When the debate started, that was such a big moment for me. It all became a reality.”

History-making duo:

With a number of debates still on the docket for the 2016 elections, Regan and Smith may be part of a growing number of moderators, but their history-making appearance as the first female duo to host a debate will always separate them from the pack.

As Smith said: “It was a proud moment, and Trish and I really shared in that.”