19 good questions Fox News should ask candidates at the first GOP presidential debate
Eight Republican presidential hopefuls will take the Fox News debate stage tonight for a game of “kill the man (or woman) with the ball” as the candidates seek to emerge as Donald Trump’s top challenger.
In normal times, the frontrunner — Trump — would face attack from all the others. But these times are anything but normal, with Trump planning to skip the Republican debate. So the event is widely viewed as a battle to occupy the second-place spot now tenuously held by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
No matter how Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum tackle their role in Milwaukee, Trump will almost certainly dominate the debate in absentia. The instant headlines will focus on which candidate best handled the elephant not in the room. Honorable mention will go to whoever achieved the most compelling, made-for-video-clip one-liner or gotcha moment at another candidate’s expense.
So expect plenty of Trump questions. And setups for pre-programmed talking points.
Also, expect many well-rehearsed ad-lib lines from the participating candidates, who in addition to DeSantis, include former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.
Former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are slated to be two of the eight participants in a Republican presidential debate on Aug. 23, 2023. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
But don’t expect candidates themselves to debate accusations of Republican hypocrisy surrounding Trump’s legal troubles. There’s no reward for reasonableness in the GOP primary because party leaders have rushed away from moderation and toward the most extreme and intolerant elements of a party that’s packed up its storied “big tent” in favor of a MAGA personality cult.
With that in mind, here are some knuckleball questions the moderators should ask and the candidates should answer:
1.) Will you guarantee that your administration will not bring criminal charges against Joe Biden — regardless of the allegations he might face — to assure that the Department of Justice not be weaponized against a former president of the opposing party?
2.) The Log Cabin Republicans, which supports LGBTQ rights, is a decades-old organization that endorsed Donald Trump in 2020. Why do you deserve this group’s support in 2024?
3.) During the Trump administration, the Department of Defense estimated there were 14,700 transgender troops serving in the armed forces. Do you honor their service without reservation?
4.) Do you favor federal gun-possession laws restricting the Second Amendment rights of people who have never been convicted of a crime but were aware that they were using and addicted to unlawful drugs at the time they had a firearm?
5.) If not, do you believe these gun-possession charges should nevertheless be pursued against Hunter Biden – even to the point of prison time — if he’s found guilty of federal criminal allegations he’s facing?
6.) By 2045, the United States will become a minority-white country, according to U.S. Census projections. In what ways is this good or bad for the country?
7.) What is your message to white Americans who are alarmed at the prospect of becoming a minority race in America?
8.) Do you consider the United States a Christian nation?
9.) Would you describe most Democrats and Democratic elected public officials as “patriots”?
10.) Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others who oppose abortion on religious grounds have argued against having to participate in abortion-related activities they claim violate their faith. Do you agree?
11.) Women of religious faiths whose teachings differ on abortion from mainstream Christianity have argued against having their pregnancies controlled by anti-abortion laws they claim violate their faith. Do you agree?
12.) How do you, personally, define the term “woke”?
13.) Some companies have come under fire from many Republicans over their “diversity and inclusion” policies. Why should the government forbid – or at the least, discourage – race-conscious efforts like these?
14.) Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. Biden reversed that decision in 2021. Which path would you follow in 2025?
15.) As president, what would you do if a new strain of COVID-19 began killing tens of thousands of Americans during the winter of 2025?
16.) With so many states having legalized marijuana, would you favor national decriminalization of pot?
17.) What steps, if any, would your administration take to facilitate the establishment of ethical standards at the U.S. Supreme Court?
18.) Would you continue Trump’s approach of outsourcing some judicial selections to the Federalist Society?
19.) Do you plan pardons for people convicted in connection with the January 6 Capitol riot, and if so, what criteria would you employ?