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Where and when to watch the first Republican presidential debate

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If Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, seems too early for a presidential debate, that isn’t stopping the Republican Party from holding one in the city of Milwaukee and broadcasting it on multiple Fox News-affiliated outlets.

The debate is set to begin at 6 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, with Fox News beginning its coverage at 5 p.m. and continuing past 9 p.m. — which on the East Coast is midnight, or that time when cable news channels morph from shiny carriages into not-so-shiny pumpkins until the news cycle begins anew the following morning.

The debate is sponsored by the Republican National Committee, and the wraparound coverage will be carried on:

The streaming service Rumble will also carry the contest.

The biggest news surrounding the debate concerns who will — and won’t — be there.

  • This combination of photos shows Republican presidential candidates, top row...

    This combination of photos shows Republican presidential candidates, top row from left, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy, bottom row from left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Governor Asa Hutchinson. (AP Photo)

  • FILE – Signage at News Corporation headquarters is shown in...

    FILE – Signage at News Corporation headquarters is shown in this photo, in New York, Oct. 20, 2021. The first 2024 Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, is being moderated by Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

  • Former president Donald Trump supporters walk near the Fiserv Forum...

    Former president Donald Trump supporters walk near the Fiserv Forum as set up continues for the upcoming Republican presidential debate Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

  • FILE – Republican presidential candidate former president Donald Trump speaks...

    FILE – Republican presidential candidate former president Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

  • FILE – Bret Baier, right, and Martha MacCallum, left, stand...

    FILE – Bret Baier, right, and Martha MacCallum, left, stand during a Fox News town-hall style event with Sen. Bernie Sanders on April 15, 2019 in Bethlehem, Pa. The first 2024 Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, is being moderated by Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

  • Republican presidential candidate North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum pauses as...

    Republican presidential candidate North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum pauses as he speaks during a fundraising event for U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • FILE – Republican presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson...

    FILE – Republican presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

  • FILE – Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks...

    FILE – Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

  • FILE – Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris...

    FILE – Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks with reporters outside the Child Rights Protection Center in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

  • FILE – Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks...

    FILE – Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a fundraising event for U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, Aug. 6, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

  • Republican presidential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence speaks...

    Republican presidential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence speaks about his book, “So Help Me God,” Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, at the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson, Miss. Pence was one of several dozen authors who participated in a variety of panels or sit-down interviews for festival attendees. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

  • Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at The Gathering conservative...

    Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at The Gathering conservative political conference in Buckhead, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. (Arvin Temkar/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

  • Presidential hopeful and former ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at The...

    Presidential hopeful and former ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at The Gathering in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Donald Trump, the former president who faces four indictments, will not travel to Milwaukee. He has said, both on the stump and on social media, that he doesn’t need to debate due to his overwhelming lead among the GOP field.

In a Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday, 49% of likely Republican primary voters said they would vote for Trump. He was followed by businessman Vivik Ramaswamy at 11%, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 10%, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 7%, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott at 4%, former Vice President Mike Pence and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, each at 3%, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and radio host Larry Elder each at 1%.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Texas businessman Ryan Binkley and Michigan businessman Perry Johnson each drew less than 1% in the Rasmussen poll.

As counter-programming, Trump recorded an interview with former Fox host Tucker Carlson that is slated to be broadcast on Twitter/X at the same time as the debate, according to sources.

If you’re keeping score, that’s one guy thumbing his nose at the RNC, the other at his former cable news employer.

Meanwhile in Milwaukee, current Fox hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will moderate the debate, which will dispense with opening statements and get right into questions for the candidates.

And how does a candidate qualify for a spot in Wednesday’s debate? The Republican National Committee mandated the following qualifications:

  • They must have at least 40,000 individual donors
  • They must earn at least 1% support in three national polls, or in two national and two early state polls deemed credible by the RNC
  • They must sign a pledge to back the eventual winner of the GOP primary nominating process, even if it isn’t them

Speaking of candidates, eight have qualified for the debate so far:

  • Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota
  • Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida
  • Former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina
  • Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence
  • Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina

If you’re not spending hours a day assessing the GOP field, you might wonder’s who’s missing from the list above. Here are declared Republican candidates who didn’t qualify for Wednesday’s debate:

  • Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami
  • Talk show host Larry Elder of Los Angeles
  • Businessman Perry Johnson of Michigan
  • Former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas

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