The New Hampshire Union Leader has launched a C-SPAN-televised August 3 forum for 2016 Republican presidential candidates, and 14 candidates have confirmed their participation. The question-and-answer style event, which is not an official Republican National Committee-sanctioned presidential debate, will take place at the Dana Center at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. at 7 p.m. EST and is scheduled to run for two hours.
The Voters First Republican Presidential Forum was launched by the New Hampshire Union Leader in response to a rising chorus of complaints over Fox News’ decision to exclude candidates with low poll numbers from its August 6 prime time debate at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
“Fox has said it will serve as the first primary and ‘winnow’ the field on Aug. 6. We and our partners think the voters of our states should continue to play that role. Our forum will give voters a chance to see the larger field of candidates and will give the voters a chance to have their issues addressed,” said New Hampshire Union Leader publisher Joseph W. McQuaid.
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The New Hampshire forum is currently set to feature all of the currently-announced prominent Republican candidates save for two, Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee. Huckabee’s absence from the list of participating candidates was not explained by the Union Leader, so it could be possible that he will confirm his participation at a later time. Candidates set to participate include Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and George Pataki.
According to the Union Leader, “Candidate Trump bowed out because, an aide said, he was upset with a Union Leader editorial this week that mocked him for saying that U.S. Sen. John McCain was not a war hero. McCain, shot down by the North Vietnamese, suffered years of torture after refusing to be released early because his father was an admiral.”
Last Tuesday, billionaire Donald Trump reportedly wrote a letter to McQuaid explaining his refusal to participate, which read, “…knowing you as I do, I feel it is unlikely I will be getting the endorsement from you and the Union Leader. I have made a great fortune based on instinct and that, unfortunately, is my view. Therefore, and for other reasons including the fact that I feel there are too many people onstage to have a proper forum, I will not be attending.”
The forum will be moderated by WGIR radio personality Jack Heath. According to the Union Leader, “The Voters First Forum is being co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier, and the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Gazette. Broadcast co-sponsors are iHeart radio, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids; and WLTX-TV in Columbia, S.C. The forum will be broadcast nationally by C-SPAN. New England viewers will be able to watch on NECN. It will be broadcast locally by NH1/WBIN-TV in New Hampshire, as well as by the South Carolina and Iowa stations. It will also air live on NHPR.”
Event organizers are asking the public to submit suggestions of issues to discuss at the forum.
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