ABC Announces GOP Primary Debate in New Hampshire

ABC News announced on Dec. 7 that it will host a debate in New Hampshire on Jan. 18 at Saint Anselm College.
ABC Announces GOP Primary Debate in New Hampshire
The ABC logo outside of ABC headquarters in New York City, on Feb. 24, 2010. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Jackson Richman

ABC News announced on Dec. 7 that it will host a debate in New Hampshire on Jan. 18.

The debate—which will be at Saint Anselm College in the town of Goffstown—will occur just five days before the New Hampshire primary.

The network said it will announce the criteria to make the debate stage, the moderators, and other information “at a later time.”

“ABC News is excited to host this Republican debate with our partners in the nation’s first primary state of New Hampshire,” said ABC News President Kim Godwin in a statement.

“Our powerhouse political team has been working hard on this debate to provide our audience with the opportunity to hear from the candidates at this decisive moment in the primary race,” she continued.

The debate will be held alongside the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.

“The New Hampshire Republican State Committee is looking forward to working with our partners at ABC News, WMUR, and St. Anselm’s College for a New Hampshire Republican presidential primary debate subject to RNC guidelines,” said the committee’s chairman, Chris Ager, in a statement.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is set on Dec. 8 to allow candidates to participate in unsanctioned debates after prohibiting them from doing so in accordance with a pledge they signed in order to be allowed on the debate stages.

ABC News’s announcement came on the same day as CNN announced a debate on Jan. 10 in Iowa and another one on Jan. 21 in New Hampshire ahead of the caucus and primary, respectively, in those states.

To qualify for the first CNN debate, which will be at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, candidates must, among numerous criteria, be at 10 percent in three separate Hawkeye State or national polls of GOP voters.

For the second debate, which, like the ABC News debate, will be at Saint Anselm College, candidates must poll at 10 percent in three separate Granite State or national polls of GOP voters, in addition to meeting other requirements.

Given the requirements, only former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would qualify for these debates, while the other candidates still in the race—entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson—would not.

Mr. DeSantis announced on X, formerly Twitter, that he will at least be in the debate in the Hawkeye State.
“Looking forward to debating in Iowa!” he posted.
Mr. DeSantis’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether he will participate in the CNN debate in New Hampshire.

However, Mr. DeSantis announced on X that he will be at the ABC News debate.

“Look forward to debating in the Granite State next month!” he posted.

Ms. Haley’s campaign declined to comment on the record on whether she will attend the CNN debates in Iowa and New Hampshire and the ABC News debate.

In addition to the polling criteria, other requirements include being a U.S. citizen, filing with the Federal Election Commission a statement of candidacy, and consent to the debate rules.

It’s unlikely that former President Donald Trump will participate in the CNN debates, given that he has opted out of all debates thus far. In addition, he’s also openly disdainful of the network, which he has called “fake news,” though he participated in June in a testy town hall hosted by the network and moderated by anchor Kaitlan Collins.

The moderators for the CNN debates have not been announced.

Low Ratings

The latest debate, which aired Wednesday on NewsNation, got the lowest ratings of the 2024 cycle.

There were 1.59 million people who watched the debate on the fledgling cable news network, while 2.62 million tuned into the simulcast on the CW, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Among those between the ages of 25 and 54, 350,000 watched the debate on NewsNation, while 500,000 in that crucial demographic in the ratings space watched it on the CW, according to Nexstar.

The viewership was lower than the third debate hosted by NBC News on Nov. 8. Moderated by Lester Holt, Kristen Welker, and conservative radio host Hugh Hewit, it attracted 4.92 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In contrast, just over 12.8 million people tuned in to the first primary debate—hosted by Fox News in August—with more than 2.8 million of them between the ages of 25 and 54, according to Nielsen. The second debate, hosted by Fox Business Network in September, garnered 9.5 million viewers, 2 million of whom were in the 25-54 age range.

Jackson Richman is a Washington correspondent for The Epoch Times. In addition to Washington politics, he covers the intersection of politics and sports/sports and culture. He previously was a writer at Mediaite and Washington correspondent at Jewish News Syndicate. His writing has also appeared in The Washington Examiner. He is an alum of George Washington University.
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