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Union Leader to host Presidential candidates' forum Aug. 6

Staff Report
June 10. 2015 6:15PM

Reader Poll

  • Is it un-American this early in the process to limit a field of presidential primary debate participants to 10 current frontrunners?
  • Yes
  • 72%
  • No
  • 28%
  • Total Votes: 872

On the same August night that Fox News hosts a much-criticized and limited Republican presidential debate in Cleveland, the Union Leader will host a New Hampshire Presidential Forum in the first primary state.

It will be televised nationally by C-SPAN, which will also broadcast it on radio.

Union Leader Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid said the newspaper has been considering such a forum for some time. He said an open protest letter sent Wednesday to Fox and the Republican National Committee from 56 prominent state Republicans should be a wake-up call to everyone in New Hampshire.

"What Fox is attempting to do, and is actually bragging about doing, is a real threat to the first-in-the-nation primary," McQuaid said. "Fox boasts that it will 'winnow' the field of candidates before New Hampshire gets to do so. That isn't just bad for New Hampshire, it's bad for the presidential selection process by limiting the field to only the best-known few with the biggest bankrolls. Why the RNC and, especially, its New Hampshire representative, Steve Duprey, would defend this and be a party to it is baffling."

Fox News' Chris Wallace, who is to moderate the Cleveland debate, said last week that, "A lot of people would say around the country, we've given Iowa and New Hampshire enough of a role and maybe the nation should play something of a role."

Earlier, Fox News host Howard Kurtz wrote: "Fox News has set a bar that will make it difficult for the also-rans to get political traction." He wrote that the rules "will help winnow the field" and "well before anyone makes it to Iowa, the Republican candidates will have to clear the bar for Fox’s Cleveland primary."

But McQuaid said that the Fox plan might actually backfire on the network and those candidates who choose Cleveland over New Hampshire.

"Voters here have an independent streak," he said, "and they might well be disposed to vote for a so-called 'also-ran' who didn't meet the Fox criteria but who has spent the time and effort here to meet them and answer their questions."

McQuaid said the newspaper has spoken with some candidates and candidate representatives who believe New Hampshire’s role in vetting candidates is important and is threatened by Fox if it excludes candidates so early in the process based solely on name recognition in national polls. Criteria for the New Hampshire Forum on Aug. 6 will include such things as established campaigns and staffing.


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