The Republican Party will have it's next presidential primary debate on 28 January, with the party's leading candidates facing off just days before the Iowa caucuses. The Fox News-hosted debate will be the first GOP debate that is not split into an undercard and top-tier events. Several of the candidates have pledged to attend the Pork Congress — a convention for pork producers — being held at the same venue as the debate.
Although Fox News has not yet announced the lineup for the debate, controversy has already sprung up over the participation of frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump was confronted by moderator Megyn Kelly during the first Fox News debate in August over his comments regarding women. The bombastic real estate mogul turned politician retaliated by implying that Kelly was menstruating during the debate.
After the network made it clear that it would not dump Kelly from the debate, Trump's campaign manager said he "will not be participating" in the debate, The Associated Press reported. The announcement follows Trump's criticisms on Twitter that the network was trying to build up ratings for the upcoming debate with his participation. "Without me they'd have no ratings!" he tweeted.
It is unlikely Trump will need the debates to continue dominating the polls. The GOP frontrunner has found himself the topic of headlines around the world as he lends his opinions on a variety of subjects. He even defended Russian President Vladimir Putin in his alleged involvement in the assassination of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. Trump claimed there was "no evidence" of Putin's involvement, adding: "They say a lot of things about me that are untrue too."
The debate, however, will prove crucial to the remaining candidates. The latest Iowa Republican presidential caucus poll by Quinnipiac reveals Ted Cruz trails Trump closely behind by two points (29% to Trump's 31%), while Marco Rubio's 13% support could benefit from a debate boost.
When and Where
The second Republican debate of 2016 will air live beginning at 9pm EST/2am GMT from the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Unlike all previous debates, the candidates will not be split into two groups. The debate will be hosted by Fox News with three anchors from the previous Fox News debate returning as moderators: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace.
Fox News has not revealed the format of the debate or who will be participating other than announcing it will last two hours.
How to Watch
Viewers of the last GOP debate before the caucuses will have a number of ways of tuning in. The debate will air live on Fox News and will be streamed live on FoxNews.com and on the Fox News Mobile app. Those hoping to listen to the debate rather than watch it can follow along on Fox News Radio. Politico noted that the first debate hosted by Fox News garnered 24 million viewers, the largest audience for a non-sports cable broadcast in TV history.
The next Republican debate will be on 6 February from Manchester, New Hampshire. The debate, which will be hosted by ABC News from Saint Anselm College, will happen just three days ahead of the New Hampshire primary.
IBTimes UK will be live blogging the debates beginning at 9pm EST/2am GMT.