What To Know About Tonight’s GOP Debate In Las Vegas

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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The debate stage at the Venetian in Las Vegas (photo Alex Pappas/Daily Caller).

LAS VEGAS — Ahead of tonight’s Republican presidential debate, CNN gave reporters, including from The Daily Caller, a behind-the-scenes tour of the debate stage in Las Vegas.

Here’s what to know about the format:

  • CNN and Facebook are the hosts of the debate.
  • The debate is being held at the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
  • It’s the last televised debate of the year.
  • There are actually two debates. An early “undercard” debate starting around 6 p.m. EST for four candidates and a primetime debate of the top nine polling Republican presidential candidates at around 9 p.m. EST.
  • The debate is airing on CNN and online at CNN.com. Radio partner, the Salem Radio Network, is also airing the debate live.
  • The moderator is Wolf Blitzer. Questioners will include Dana Bash of CNN and Hugh Hewitt of Salem Radio Network.


    The spin room for after the debate at the Venetian in Las Vegas (photo Alex Pappas/Daily Caller).

  • There will be four candidates at the first debate: [crscore]Lindsey Graham[/crscore], Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rick Santorum. It will start airing sometime between 6:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST.
  • CNN’s Anderson Cooper will lead a “halftime” show between the debates. CNN will add other podiums at halftime for the primetime debate between Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore], Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, [crscore]Rand Paul[/crscore], [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] and Donald Trump.


    The press filing center, where reporters are covering the debate, at the Venetian in Las Vegas (photo Alex Pappas/Daily Caller).

  • The primetime debate will start at 9 p.m. The national anthem will be sung by Ayla Brown, the daughter of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
  • Opening statements will actually start before 9 p.m. in reverse polling order, so Rand Paul will be the first to speak and Donald Trump will be the last. Each candidate will have a one minute opening statement and a 30 second closing statement.
  • The two-hour debate will end at about 11 p.m. EST.
  • Candidates and campaigns can go to the so-called spin room afterwards to talk to the media after the debate.
  • In the debate hall, there will be 17 cameras. There are about 1,300 seats. On every podium, candidates have water, a pad of paper and a pen. Candidates are not allowed to bring anything with them, including any electronics or notes.

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