The two-hour debate will start at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday. It’s being moderated by Fox News Channel hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
Unlike some previous presidential debates, which have been simulcast across a number of major networks and cable channels, the first forum is airing exclusively on Fox News and the Fox Business Network as well as on Fox’s website and other streaming and digital platforms.
In lieu of the network’s YouTube channel, the Republican National Committee has partnered with Rumble — a video sharing platform popular with some conservatives — to livestream the debate. Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said earlier this year this was a decision aimed toward “getting away from Big Tech.”
Another debate partner is the Young America’s Foundation, a Virginia-based outfit headed up by former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that bills itself as “the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement.”
Wisconsin has proven its mettle as a swing state in recent balloting. Four of the past six presidential elections have been decided by less than a percentage point there, with Donald Trump winning narrowly in 2016 before losing by a similar margin in 2020.
WHO WILL BE THERE?
The RNC confirmed late Monday which candidates will be on the Milwaukee debate stage. The party set a number of markers that candidates needed to meet to qualify, including achieving benchmarks in polling and donor numbers, as well as signing a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee.
Those expected to be on the stage are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Former President Donald Trump, the early GOP front-runner, long ago satisfied the polling and donor requirements but has said for months that he saw little upside in joining his rivals on stage, given his commanding lead in the race.
Trump, who has also said that he would not sign the pledge, said over the weekend on his social media platform that he’d be skipping the Milwaukee debate, and he has floated counterprogramming alternatives, including possibly showing up at the last minute, attending but sitting in the audience and offering live commentary on his Truth Social site, calling into different networks to draw viewers from the debate, or holding a rally instead.