The Fox News Matinee Debate

So the GOP presidential debate saga is moving even faster than I expected. Faced with the threat of a competing event in New Hampshire, Fox News has announced it will hold a “forum”–though with multiple candidates on stage together with moderators, which would by the RNC’s definitions make it a “debate”–for the candidates with over 1% in the polls who don’t make the top-ten cut.

But according to National Journal’s Tim Alberta, the kiddie-pool event will be held on the afternoon of August 6, while the main event will be in the evening (with a similar dual-debate format for September, CNN at least plans to hold them back-to-back). I don’t know how many people are going to watch a debate on a Thursday afternoon, though presumably some of Fox’s senior viewers might. Kinda makes you hope Chris Christie doesn’t make the cut and has to regale a silver-haired audience with his “entitlement reform” plans.

To make the saga even stranger, the Union-Leader hasn’t called off its own August 6 event, and by all appearances is structuring it so that it will qualify as an “unsanctioned debate” that would disqualify participants from any of the other sanctioned events through 2016. Could be a good opportunity for somebody who’s really desperate for oxygen–say, Bobby JIndal–to get a stage to himself in Manchester while everybody else fights for a line or two in Cleveland. Ah, never a dull moment in the the clown car primaries of 2016!

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.