Fox News is hosting the first GOP presidential debate on Thursday, because there's no other network more fit to bring together the top 10 Republican candidates of the 2016 election season. Joining Fox host Megyn Kelly as the GOP debate moderator is Chris Wallace, a veteran broadcast journalist who now helms Fox News Sunday. As a registered Democrat, and someone who once famously grilled former President Ronald Reagan on-air, Wallace should make the already anticipated debate a little more interesting.
The Emmy Award-winning journalist assured The Washington Post on Wednesday that he will bring the heat to Thursday's unprecedented debate, which will include the likes of Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. "I've got some doozies in there," Wallace told the newspaper, referring to his binder of notes.
Should these conservative candidates be worried? Short answer: Yes. Although he's been with Fox News for more than a decade, Wallace has never been known to go easy on conservative politicians. One of the biggest moments for the broadcast veteran came during a late '80s news conference with President Reagan, where Wallace confronted Reagan about why he lied and denied Israel's involvement with the Iran arms race. Ouch.
Any mention of Reagan on Thursday should get interesting, as Wallace covered the lauded conservative president during a majority of his presidency. Last year, Wallace actually challenged his fellow Fox News hosts for fudging some details about Reagan's response to the Korean Air crash of 1983. The airliner was shot down by a missile over the then-Soviet Union, similar to what is suspected to have happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine. While several Fox News hosts praised Reagan while simultaneously criticizing Obama for remaining on vacation, Wallace reminded his colleagues that Reagan took four days to get back to Washington, D.C. from his own vacation to respond to the incident.
Aside from minimizing the idolization of Ronald Reagan, Wallace should be able to wrangle some honest answers from the 10 Republican presidential candidates. Before joining Fox News, Wallace served as NBC's chief White House correspondent for seven years, moderated Meet the Press, and anchored the Sunday edition of NBC Nightly News and ABC's Nightline.
But the candidate Wallace will most likely target in Thursday's debate is Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman with no political experience. Since Trump announced his candidacy, Wallace has openly talked about his skepticism of the on-going Trump surge. In June, Wallace told conservative radio host Jamie Allman that including Trump as a serious contender for the presidency was laughable at best and frightening at worst.
"We would no sooner put an amateur, somebody who had had no experience as the head of a Fortune 500 company," Wallace told Allman. "And yet we seem to think that somebody can become president of the United States, which is the biggest executive job in the world, and not have any experience in it."