The fourth in a series of Republican presidential primary debates—this time hosted by Fox Business Network (FBN) and The Wall Street Journal—will take place tonight. And while the topics will be similar to the previous debate hosted by CNBC, the tone should be considerably different.
That debate was roundly criticized by all the candidates for the loaded and negative questions asked by moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood, leading RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to call it a “crap sandwich” and to suspend its plans to partner with CNBC’s sister-network NBC News in February.
FBN anchor Neil Cavuto told Politico that he and fellow moderator Maria Bartiromo are “business journalists” and want to stick to the subjects, adding that “it’s a debate on economic issues, it’s not Access Hollywood.”
Besides trying to stick to the subjects and keep control of the debate, the network also plans to track how much time each candidate speaks in order to try to ensure that they all have a significant opportunity to speak, unlike the previous debates, which have been dominated by the top two or three candidates.
That should be a little easier thanks in part to FBN trimming the main-stage participants to eight from the 10-plus that have appeared in the previous debates. Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie have been relegated to the little-watched and mostly useless undercard debate that will air two hours before the main event.
FBN does hope to emulate CNBC in one aspect—ratings. While the network didn’t attract as many viewers as Fox News (24 million) or CNN (23 million), it did set a new record for the network with 14 million people tuning in, which FBN will be hard-pressed to match since it is available in fewer homes than CNBC. But it will undoubtedly set a record for FBN.
If you don’t get Fox Business Network on your cable system you can watch the livestream here.