Given his role in breaking news coverage, you might think Wolf Blitzer is on CNN around the clock, nearly non-stop. Sometimes he is, covering shootings, the Baltimore riots, or tornadoes in Oklahoma. On a normal day, though, he hosts just three hours on the network. Blitzer has been with CNN since 1990 when he started as the network's military-affairs correspondent at the Pentagon. He quickly moved to a political beat, explaining why he will host the next Republican debate on Tuesday, Dec. 15, in Las Vegas.
After two years at the Pentagon, Blitzer covered the White House during nearly the entire Clinton Administration, from 1992 to 1999. During that time he was tapped to host CNN's Sunday political round-up called the Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer where he covered the week's political affairs. The program was canceled in 2009, but Blitzer now holds the title of lead political anchor and hosts the programs Wolf, airing at 1 p.m. ET, and The Situation Room, which airs at 5 p.m. ET.
During the 2012 election, he moderated three Republican debates on CNN and anchored the key nights during the caucuses, primaries, and then the night of the general election, which won an Emmy award. He also worked on prior elections in some capacity back to at least 2004 and covered the inaugurations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Blitzer might also be a good choice for the debate due to his knowledge of the Middle East given the suspected support of ISIS by the suspects in the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino. Before working for CNN he started with Reuters in Tel Aviv and then worked for an Israeli English-language paper, The Jerusalem Post, and covered the Egypt-Israel peace negotiations and peace treaty. While at CNN he covered the first Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the Arab Spring.
CNN announced the criteria for Tuesday's debate back in November. Candidates must poll at either 3.5 percent nationally, 4 percent in Iowa, or 4 percent in New Hampshire on average between Oct. 29 and Dec. 13. At the time of the announcement, that would have included nine main-stage candidates: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump.
CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt will join Blitzer on the stage to ask questions. Before the main show, less successful candidates will get yet another chance to capture the public's attention. CNN announced it will also host an undercard debate with Facebook earlier that night. Candidates will need to poll at least 1 percent in four separate national, Iowa, or New Hampshire polls.
Given the rambunctiousness of some of the candidates (ahem, Trump) at prior Republican debates, Blitzer's many years of experience may serve CNN well.