Recent Posts

Arizona to host GOP presidential debate in December on Astini News

by Dan Nowicki - Sept. 30, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Arizona Republicans are moving forward with plans for a Dec. 1 GOP presidential debate, securing CNN as a national media partner for the event and continuing to search for a venue for the event, which backers hope will raise the state's profile in the 2012 White House race.

Whether the Republican National Committee officially sanctions the debate remains to be seen, although Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the event will go on regardless. Earlier this month, RNC officials gave their tentative blessing to an Arizona debate, providing the state Republican Party could put together a proposal that "meets the guidelines of the debate committee and receives their approval." The Arizona GOP is continuing to pursue official RNC status for the debate, Brewer said.

"I would assume that . . . they would want to sanction it, but it doesn't really matter at this point in time," Brewer told The Arizona Republic.

Brewer, the main force behind the drive to secure an Arizona presidential debate, announced the latest developments on Thursday. She said Arizona is the perfect place to debate issues such as illegal immigration, border security, the housing crisis and states' rights.

"The great news, if I can say, is we've got the debate on CNN and it's going to be a worldwide newscast - and it couldn't get any better than that," Brewer said. "I am just thrilled that Arizona will be on the forefront of all these issues that are facing the United States. We've been leaders on a lot of it. I'm just thrilled that we were able to close the deal today (Thursday), and I am going to look forward to December."

In a written statement, a CNN executive called Arizona "a key state that will play a pivotal role in helping Republicans choose their presidential nominee."

"CNN is honored to provide voters in Arizona and around the country an opportunity to hear the GOP candidates present their vision for the future," said Sam Feist, CNN's Washington bureau chief and senior vice president.

The idea of an Arizona debate emerged at the same time as Brewer's discussions with the RNC over the date of the state's presidential preference election. Originally, Brewer was considering moving the date of the state's preference election to January in order to make Arizona a more important player in the primary process, but eventually opted to leave it on Feb. 28.

"When I talked to the RNC, we talked about the debate and we talking about moving (the date), but they really weren't tied together," Brewer said.

The Republic's request for comment on the latest Arizona debate developments from the RNC was not successful.

The debate will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1, a Thursday. The date is nine days before a Dec. 10 debate in Des Moines, Iowa, the state that holds the nation's first presidential caucuses. That debate is sponsored by ABC News and the Iowa Republican Party.

Brewer said local debate organizers are working to secure a venue and hope to have one as soon as possible. She said the debate likely will be held in the Phoenix area because it would be accessible for the participating candidates.

"We want to showcase our capital city, I think," Brewer said. "That's what I would like."

Arizona Democrats reacted to news of an Arizona GOP debate by pointing to an incident during a Sept. 22 GOP debate in which some audience members booed a gay serviceman who asked a question about the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"If the recent presidential debates have proved anything, it's that out-of-touch, tone-deaf behavior is alive and well in the Republican Party," said Luis Heredia, the Arizona Democratic Party's executive director. "We look forward to seeing how Arizona's Tea Party can possibly top booing a member of the military."

What's on Your Mind...