Wherever you plan to watch the next Republican debate, you can bet it won't be as nice as the debate's actual location. Republican presidential candidates will banter (and probably bicker) amongst some of the prettiest fake canals in the world on Tuesday. The CNN-hosted debate will be in Las Vegas at the Venetian, one of the fanciest luxury hotels in the world and the largest in the United States.
Keeping the candidates from falling out of their political gondolas will be CNN's lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer. While perhaps most famous for breaking news, Blitzer moderated three Republican debates in 2012 and is well versed in the world of politics, having hosted Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer , a Sunday political round-up on the network from 1993 until 2009. Blitzer has also reported extensively on the Middle East since he got his start working for Reuters for Tel Aviv in 1972, giving him plenty of background information to question the candidates on ISIS.
At the debate, co-sponsored by Facebook, CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash and conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt will join Blitzer on stage to serve as moderators. In addition to being broadcast on CNN, the debate will air on the radio through Salem Radio, the owner of Hewitt's nationally syndicated radio talk show. Bash and Hewitt are familiar with the gig as they co-hosted the September CNN debate that was mainly moderated by Jake Tapper.
CNN announced the criteria for Tuesday's debate back in November, helping some candidates but moving others to the brink. 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.
Christie had been relegated to the undercard debate hosted by Fox Business Network in November. He is not polling well nationally (or in Iowa) but he more than meets the threshold in New Hampshire. CNN's criteria, while saving Christie, puts Paul on the brink. He is currently right at 4 percent in New Hampshire. The final polls leading up to the debate will decide his fate. For the undercard debate, candidates will only need to poll at 1 percent in four separate national, Iowa, or New Hampshire polls.
In the end, whether or not the candidates inspire the country's voters has little to do with the setting, of course. But, for any who do have a bad showing, what could be a better place to drop out of the race?