The Third GOP Debate Has A Particular Theme

The third Republican presidential debate will soon be upon us — it's going down on Wednesday, October 28, and will see a still-overstuffed field face off to establish their conservative bonafides. But while the previous two debates (hosted by Fox News and CNN) were general interest affairs, this one coming up figures to be a little different. So, what will the third GOP debate be about?

It's going to have a very specific angle, and for one obvious reason: It's being hosted by business and financial news channel CNBC, so it'll focus tightly on economic issues. That much was promised, at least, in a commentary last month by Jake Novak, supervising producer of CNBC's Power Lunch. Despairing that the first two GOP debates had largely eschewed economic issues in favor of discussing things "no one should really consider to elect a president," Novak insisted that things will go very differently in a debate put on by CNBC.

Here's the good news: Help is on the way. That's because the next GOP presidential debate will be broadcast and moderated by none other than my colleagues here at CNBC. That doesn't mean the candidates will give the best answers, but they'll have to expect the CNBC debate will force them to prepare to discuss tax policies, job creation, energy, health care costs, interest rates, inflation, retirement, college tuition, trade policy, etc.

It comes as little surprise that CNBC would center their whole debate around economic and financial issues, given the nature of their programming — they're essentially the go-to mainstream source for insider-styled business news on cable, one that often reflects a pro-status quo view of capitalism, far closer in line with the Republicans that the Democrats. The people who'll moderate the debate, according to CNN Money, will be Squawk Box's Becky Quick, Squawk on the Street's Carl Quintanilla, and John Harwood, the channel's chief Washington correspondent. They'll reportedly be joined in some capacity by CNBC personality Jim Cramer, personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson, and on-air editor Rick Santelli, who's been widely credited with birthing the Tea Party, in a 2009 rant against defaulted homeowners.

Obviously, a lot of things go into how we assess the winners and losers of political debates, and it's not always all about the facts — attention can so easily get caught up in the punctuated laugh lines, or body language, or personal appearances.


But you can definitely say this much for the upcoming debate, regardless of your opinions about CNBC, or even the candidates' specific views: They're going to have to answer far more technical questions on an array of economic issues than we've seen so far, and it'll be fascinating to find out who thrives most under those conditions. Of the candidates likely to appear, only two hail directly from the corporate world — former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and real estate magnate Donald Trump.

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