GOP Debate Will Be Test for Her, Too

Dana Perino of Fox News is in the spotlight Wednesday night
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2023 10:20 AM CDT
GOP Debate Will Be Test for Her, Too
Fox News anchor Dana Perino, right, interviews former Vice President Dan Quayle in this 2018 file photo.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The second Republican debate takes place Wednesday night, and the New York Times sees it as a challenge not only for the candidates, but as perhaps the "biggest test" yet as a journalist for moderator Dana Perino. Coverage:

  • Nuts and bolts: The debate begins at 9pm ET on Fox Business and will be moderated by Perino, Fox's Stuart Varney, and Ilia Calderon of Univision. The six candidates who've currently qualified and plan to be there are Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, and Tim Scott, per Time.
  • Perino: In its profile of the 51-year-old Perino, the Times notes that she first gained notice as press secretary for George W. Bush before heading to Fox. She co-hosts The Five and the morning show America's Newsroom. "Not known for being as provocative or partisan as many of her colleagues behind the desk, (Perino) has spent a good part of the last decade trying to thrive as a Bush Republican working for a network where loyalty to former President Donald J. Trump is often the ticket to high ratings and the career advancement that accompanies them." She has a reputation for being exceptionally well prepared.

  • No reach-out: Trump is skipping this debate, too, and Perino says she didn't contact his camp to try to change his mind, reports Axios. "Personally, no. I did not," she says. "I think that he had already made it clear ... he wasn't going, and so I didn't reach out." She's one of the few anchors at Fox who've never interviewed Trump himself, notes the Times.
  • Strategy: Perino says she felt the candidates spent a lot of time ineffectively talking over each other in the first debate. And while she'll try to keep them reined in on Wednesday, she also realizes it could be futile. "It is on my mind, thinking about the control of the debate," she tells Politico. "A lot of that does rest with the candidates, though." She adds that the key to a "breakout" moment for a candidate is in how they make the case that they'd be a better president than Joe Biden and Trump.
  • The governor: As for the debate itself, one of the key questions will be whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis can get any traction against the former president. The Hill digs into that. "The pressure is on DeSantis to do really well because of the fact he is slipping in the polls and he is slipping fast," says one GOP strategist in the piece.
(More Dana Perino stories.)

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