Strap in folks, it's time for another round of GOP debate madness. This time around, the CNN-hosted Republican Debate will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California — the perfect spot for the field of 11 candidates lucky enough to make the cutoff for the evening's main event. The remaining four candidates (down from five earlier last week, since former Texas Gov. Rick Perry called it quits on Friday) will have to battle it out in a pre-show forum once more, much to the chagrin of totally serious politicos like Rick Santorum.
The Reagan Library itself is a totally fitting backdrop, given the number of GOP candidates who venerate and worship the former president to near-saintlike proportions.
"Certainly the greatest president of recent generations was Ronald Reagan," said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, conveniently sidestepping a direct question from CNN's Chris Moody during a visit to the Freedom Summit in South Carolina this past June (Cruz then likely high-fived himself later that night for meeting his Reagan mentions-quota for the month). When asked the same question, billionaire businessman Donald Trump replied, "I really talk about a president who died relatively recently, Ronald Reagan," confusing everyone in the room except for Donald Trump. Surprisingly, former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum, when asked to pick his favorite living president, actually followed the rules.
"Probably a Bush," he answered poetically.
It's the fourth time the enamored GOP has had the opportunity to host its official debate festivities inside the hallowed Reagan Library, which houses the actual Air Force One Boeing 707 used by Reagan during his presidency (don't worry, you can't miss it — it'll be looming nearby during Wednesday's debate), a recreation of the White House lawns, and a giant chunk of the Berlin Wall that the 40th U.S. President just had to have, even though he totally knew it wouldn't fit in his suitcase on the way home.
Prior to Wednesday's debate, the venue hosted the first Republican primary debate of the 2008 election cycle, as well as that cycle's final debate between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. In May 2011, NBC News and Politico hosted the first GOP primary debate of the 2012 election cycle there as well.
In a move that most likely set the GOP candidates' hearts a-flutter, the invitations for Wednesday's debate were sent by former FLOTUS Nancy Reagan herself.
"Debates are a crucial part of the election process," said Mrs. Reagan in a press release last Thursday. "I'm thrilled that so many qualified candidates have the opportunity to be heard at the Reagan Presidential Library."
We're not sure if she realized it when she addressed the letters, but Donald Trump is going to be there, so Mrs. Reagan should probably take the term "qualified" with a grain of salt.