The Republican Party of Iowa and FOX News Channel have announced that they plan to hold a primetime Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday, August 11th. The debate will be part of the Republican Party of Iowa’s Straw Poll festivities, which are scheduled for Saturday, August 13th.
Partnering with FOX News on a presidential debate that will be held at the site of the Iowa Straw Poll is a very smart move by Chairman Strawn and party officials. In 2007, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani both skipped the Iowa Straw Poll, which almost led to its demise. The media attention and interest that the debate provides will likely make it much more difficult for candidates to skip the party’s major presidential event.
Adding a debate to the Iowa Straw Poll festivities also allows candidates more options in how they approach the event. The focus of the previous straw polls has been entirely on the number of votes that a candidate receives at the event. With the debate, the media will now have two components to look at instead of just the vote totals.
Today’s announcement also underscores the benefits of having Strawn lead RPI for another term. Had there been a wide-open chairman’s race, it would have been extremely difficult for the party to engage in negotiations with a media outlet in regards to a presidential debate.
The mere fact that RPI officials are already at work planning the Straw Poll puts them months ahead of where their counterparts were at this time four years ago. None of that would have been possible had Strawn not announced his intentions to seek another term.
On a related note, sources tell TheIowaRepublican.com that the members of the Republican State Central Committee have canceled a planned candidate forum for candidates seeking to run for chairman. That forum had been scheduled for this Saturday. It was cancelled because the only candidate at this time is Strawn.
Below is the RPI’s Press Release
Iowa GOP Announces 2011 Presidential Debate and Straw Poll
Iowa Republicans to partner with FOX News to host August debate in Ames
DES MOINES – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn today announced the Iowa GOP will host the Iowa Straw Poll on August 13, 2011. The Iowa Straw Poll is the critical first test of grassroots support for Republican presidential candidates in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
Additionally, the Iowa GOP is expanding the Iowa Straw Poll to include a Republican presidential debate on August 11, 2011. Strawn said the Party is partnering with FOX News to host the debate, which will give presidential candidates an opportunity to directly speak to Iowans, as well as the nation, just days before tens of thousands of Iowans cast their straw poll votes.
The Iowa Straw Poll, including the FOX News Ames Straw Poll debate, will take place at the traditional location on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa.
“Presidential candidates cannot underestimate the importance of a good showing in Iowa,” Strawn said. “This is the first true test of support in the presidential nominating cycle. Candidates come face-to-face with tens of thousands of Iowans at the Straw Poll, and will reach every corner of our state and a national audience in our presidential debate. Candidates who perform well here will enjoy a national boost in support.”
FOX News’ Senior Vice President of News Editorial Michael Clemente said, “As the road to the 2012 Presidential election heats up, FOX News will continue its commitment to the most thorough election coverage, by devoting air-time and the necessary resources for these important debates.”
The Party will release more details about the event at a later date.
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