For the third Republican debate, GOP leadership has chosen Lester Holt, Hugh Hewitt, and Kirsten Welker as moderators. Republicans aren’t happy about it.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
All three hosts are experienced debate moderators and are generally liked by their specific audiences. However, Holt and Welker are also known for their left-of-center takes, which has many wondering why they’re moderating the Republican debate.
As a Republican voter said, “Lester Holt was absolutely atrocious as the moderator of the first Trump-Clinton debate; maybe the worst I’ve ever seen in terms of one-sidedness.”
Another worried more about Welker, saying, “I don’t think too many people will be watching. With moderators like that, it will be totally disgusting. She [Welker] supported Biden in his last debate with Trump and did not show any class at all.”
Several people were also concerned about Hugh Hewitt, labeling him a RINO (Republican In Name Only). However, Hewitt also had plenty of support among the crowd. Several commenters were careful to mention that their outrage didn’t apply to him.
Many wondered why the GOP would choose left-leaning moderators for a Republican debate. As one person put it, “Would Democrats ever debate with two Fox moderators? Why should Republicans agree to this?”
Several thought the onus fell on GOP leadership and implied those at the top were against the Trump-loyal base. “Ronna McDaniel and McConnell must strategize weekly to discuss more ways to undermine the Republican base,” one person said.
A few commenters pointed out that many Republicans already distrust the media, especially outlets like NBC. They said that GOP leadership agreeing to this would only lead to a bigger fracture within the party.
Out of Touch
Some feared a fracture within the party could lead to a real split. As one person said, “The Republicans agreed to this? That tells you where party leaders are. They are completely out of touch.”
They Can Handle It
Others thought it would be entertaining to watch the candidates field left-leaning questions. Several thought certain candidates, like DeSantis, would be good at handling questions with a liberal bias. “DeSantis eats leftist journalists for breakfast,” one person said.
Who’s Debating Who
That led to a bigger question, though. In a setup like this, were the candidates debating each other or debating the moderators? “They will be great debate participants, I mean moderators,” one person quipped.
Many people thought that the entire debate would be useless. They noted that Republicans don’t want to hear questions on firearm policy or women’s reproductive rights because they know where the candidates stand. Many thought Welker and Holt were likely to focus on those areas and ignore other issues.
Some of the commenters thought the best move was for serious candidates to skip the debate altogether. “Any legitimate contender should refuse this nonsense,” one person said. Others thought top candidates within the group, like DeSantis and Haley, should debate on an independent network.
Trump, the current Republican frontrunner, won’t attend the third debate. While some criticized the former president for skipping the Republican debates, a few seemed to forgive him in light of recent events. “I can’t blame Trump for not participating,” said one voter.
Giving Him a Spotlight
Many commented that if the GOP was trying to highlight alternatives to Trump, they were doing a bad job of it. As one person put it, with those moderators in place, “No one cares, nor will they be watching…all eyes on Trump!”
Others thought the debates were a waste of time, regardless of who the moderators were. “That the RNC is even having debates is what’s truly insane,” said one commenter. “None of those on that stage will be the GOP nominee.”
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