Moderators for the Second Republican Primary Debate Unveiled

The debate is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Moderators for the Second Republican Primary Debate Unveiled
The stage is pictured before the FOX News Republican Presidential Debate 2023 at the Fiserv Forum on August 23, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Stuart Varney and Dana Perino of Fox News, alongside Ilia Calderón of Univision, will be moderating the second Republican primary debate, the media networks said Wednesday.

The debate will take place on Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and will be broadcast on Fox Business and Univision. The exact time has yet to be announced.

"We are very proud to have Stuart Varney and Dana Perino co-moderating the second debate with Univision to provide Americans with a comprehensive view of the qualifying candidates vying for the Republican nomination for president," said Jay Wallace, president and executive editor of Fox News Media.

Born in the United Kingdom, Mr. Varney has been in the television industry for 45 years and was one of Fox Business' original anchors when the channel first went online in 2007. Ms. Perino, who served as the White House press secretary for former President George W. Bush, is a co-host of "The Five," a weekday political talk show that consistently ranks as the most-watched cable news program in its time slot.

Ms. Calderón, who started her journalism career as a local anchor in Colombia, is the co-anchor of Noticiero Univision, the highest-rated Spanish-language network newscast in the United States.

"As the No. 1 source of news for the U.S. Hispanic community, Noticias Univision’s participation as co-host of the second 2023 Republican primary debate reflects the journalistic mission of Televisa Univision's news division to provide our audience with fair and balanced information," Maria Martinez-Guzman, Univision's executive vice president, said in a statement.

"As in past election cycles, we seek to inform Hispanic voters nationwide about their choices while representing our community's issues during this election cycle," Ms. Martinez-Guzman said.

Who's qualified for the second debate so far?

To make the stage at the second debate the second debate, a Republican primary contender needs at least 50,000 unique donors, with at least 200 coming from 20 different states.

The candidate must also poll at least 3 percent in two national polls or one national poll in addition to two early state polls. The early states that count are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Former Vice President Pence was the latest to pass both donation and polling thresholds. The other Republicans who've already met the criteria are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

South Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson were only qualified for the first primary debate held Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The first debate had less demanding requirements, as a candidate needed 40,000 unique donors and polled at least one percent in three national polls or in a mixture of one percent in two national polls and two early state polls to get there.

Former Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and former Texas Rep. Will Hurd didn't make it to Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump was absent at the first debate and is expected to skip the second one as well.

"The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had," the former president wrote Aug. 21 on Truth Social. "I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!"

In an earlier Truth social post, President Trump pointed to how, in 1980, Ronald Reagan didn't attend a primary debate in Iowa because he felt no need to participate as a frontrunner. Despite losing the Iowa caucus to George H.W. Bush, Reagan eventually won the Republican presidential nomination and evicted Democrat incumbent Jimmy Carter from the White House in a landslide.

"Reagan didn't do it, and neither did others," President Trump wrote. "People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate?"

According to a post-debate survey by Morning Consult, President Trump saw no change in his support among Republican primary voters after he skipped the first debate and sat with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson for an interview broadcasted on X.

Specifically, the survey conducted Aug. 24 showed that President Trump remains backed by 58 percent of potential Republican primary voters, maintaining his overwhelming 44 percentage point lead over the second placer, Gov. DeSantis.

"This is unchanged from our surveys released on Monday before he skipped Wednesday's matchup," the survey research company explained. "It shows that the Republican front-runner paid no price for skipping the debate even though most potential primary voters did want him to attend."

Third-place candidate Ramaswamy, who both delivered and attracted the most attacks on the debate stage, saw his rating slightly increase from 10 percent to 11 percent.

Support for Mr. Christie, who derided Mr. Ramaswamy as an "amateur" and compared him to ChatGPT and former President Barack Obama, also went up by one point from three percent to four percent, according to Morning Consult.

The survey has a margin of error of plus-minus three percent, the polling firm said, noting that the aforementioned changes fell well within the margin of error.