8 Big, Little Things to Know About Tonight's GOP Debate
The time, the place, the really loud buzzer?
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2015 7:16 AM CDT
A scene in advance of the FOX News/Wall Street Journal GOP Presidential Debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Newser) – Election 2016 gets real at 5pm ET tonight, and very real four hours later. The first Republican primary debate will be a two-hour Fox News event beginning at 9pm, with those candidates who didn't make the Top 10 cut participating in a debate at that earlier hour. Here are some big and little things to know about how tonight will go and could go, as reported by the New York Times, the Hill, and Politico:

  1. The 2012 election saw almost two times the number of GOP primary debates (27, by CBS News' count, if you include forums) that Election 2016 will have. Tonight's debate is the first of nine scheduled; another three could be added.
  2. Facebook is a co-sponsor of tonight's debate.
  3. Moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace will dive right into things: There will be no opening statements, just questions from the get-go. Candidates will file onto the stage at precisely 8:56 and 30 seconds.

  1. Those moderators have written about 100 questions; they expect to ask about 50. Says Kelly: "Everyday I spend a fair amount of time on my iPhone tightening them, redoing them, refining them, further researching them, bolstering them, eliminating them, and starting anew." (Here are some takes on what candidates should be asked.)
  2. The debate is taking place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and the Times reports the Fox crew had toyed with the idea of using the shot clock buzzer that sounds during Cavaliers games, rather than a polite ding, when a candidate's time is up (they have one minute for questions, 30 seconds for rebuttals). No word on the final determination.
  3. Before the debate, each candidate, at Fox News' request, recorded a video of them posing a question to their competitors. While it's not clear if these videos will run, Politico frames them as representative of the network's intention: "Generate conflict."
  4. There's been plenty of hand-wringing about wild-card Donald Trump. As the Hill puts it, "Trump could very well choose to ignore time limits and other directions." The Times echoes the sentiment about time-limit fears, and reports that "several contenders have already talked through contingency plans if Trump does pull the pin on the grenade."
  5. What else is being watched: Will Jeb Bush stumble or shine? Can the lower-polling candidates break into the spotlight? And will Chris Christie go after Rand Paul, as some predict he will do?
See who said, "Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk. That's what prepping for this debate is like."