What is on Dana Perino’s mind ahead of the 2nd Republican presidential debate?
Live from the iconic Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, we’re gearing up for the second Republican presidential primary debate, and it’s all happening TONIGHT, Wednesday, Sept 27, at 9 pm ET.
I’m Dana Perino, one of your moderators for the evening, alongside the brilliant minds of Fox Business’ Stuart Varney and Univision’s Ilia Calderón.
After a week spent here at the Reagan Library, my first political memory from the first grade—the inauguration of our 40th President—still resonates. The spirit of Reagan—his vision of a shining city on the hill, his commitment to peace through strength—it’s all here, helping to set the tone for Wednesday night’s event.
As moderators, we’ll focus on asking strong questions that matter most to you, the American people. But it is up to the candidates to make their case as to why they are the best one for the job.
Here’s a glimpse into what’s on my mind as we prepare to take the debate stage:
In the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan posed a fundamental question to the American people: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
The resounding answer was no, they were not. Reagan went on to win that election, unseating Jimmy Carter. Four years later, President Reagan asked that same question when running for re-election and this time the American people responded with a resounding yes. He went on to trounce his democratic challenger, winning 49 states for another term as president.
Fast forward. This week, President Biden broke another record. One that should not go unnoticed. The most telling statistic for me from recent polls is that a staggering 44% of Americans say they are NOT better off than they were four years ago, the worst result for any president in ABC/Post poll history. This is in line with our latest Fox News poll, which shows that only 35% of American voters approve of the way Joe Biden is handling our economy.
On Wednesday night, Republican candidates will share their vision for a brighter future, aiming to convince you, the American people, how they would make you better off than you are right now.
I have always been one to strictly follow the rules, but sometimes the same can’t be said for presidential candidates on the debate stage who are yearning for a breakout moment.
One crucial piece of advice I’ve shared with the candidates is that if they all talk over each other, the viewers at home won’t be able to hear any of them. There’s immense value in patiently listening and seizing the right moment to make a powerful point. Let’s hope they keep this in mind tonight!
It’s essential to distinguish between what makes a good question for an interview and a good question for a debate.
When a moderator asks a question that all the candidates agree on or one that’s straightforward to answer, that’s better suited for an interview format.
In a debate, the aim is to showcase the contrasting ideas and opinions of the candidates.
So, if you’re watching from home and wondering why a specific topic wasn’t brought up, remember that candidates will appear on Fox News to answer all your pressing questions.
Big moments in a campaign are a fantastic way to bring people together and let them experience democracy in action. I encourage everyone to allow their children to stay up late and witness the debate. Then, take the opportunity to listen to their impressions afterward.
Often, the fresh perspectives of young people reveal nuggets of wisdom. Please share their reactions with me; I’m eager to hear what they have to say.
In my preparations for Wednesday night’s debate, I recalled advice from former White House press secretary Mike McCurry. He wisely suggested that just when you’re walking down to the press briefing room, feeling confident and fully prepared, you should pause, turn around, go back to your office, and think again because you’re likely overlooking something important. That’s precisely what I’ll be doing right up until the debate kicks off.
So, I look forward to seeing you all there, as we delve into the critical issues facing our nation, with the American dream squarely on the ballot.
Together, let’s make this a night of spirited discourse, robust ideas, and, above all, an exercise in the vibrant democracy that defines our great nation.