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Dana Perino: Voter Uncertainty Drives High Debate Ratings

Fox News host Dana Perino, one of the moderators for the upcoming Republican presidential debate, tells Deadline that former President Donald Trump has been critical of the debates, claiming that his absence led to low viewership.

However, the first debate had a higher-than-expected viewership of 12.8 million, and Perino suggests that this reflects a willingness among voters to explore alternative candidates.

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Perino’s statement implies that viewers are engaged and concerned about the direction of the country, and they are actively seeking information about the candidates and their policies. It will be interesting to see how the second debate’s viewership compares to the first and whether it can maintain or exceed the previous numbers.

Donald Trump has criticized the idea of another Republican presidential debate, claiming that his absence resulted in low viewership. However, the upcoming second debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Fox Business and Univision will be closely watched to see if it can match last month’s higher-than-expected viewership of 12.8 million. 

Dana Perino, who is moderating the debate with Stuart Varney and Univision’s Ilia Calderón, suggests that the strong viewership from the previous debate indicates a willingness among voters to consider alternative candidates.

“I think there are people who are open-minded, and they’re paying a lot of attention, and they care about the direction of this country, and they’re worried about it,” Perino told Deadline.

Seven candidates qualified for the debate: Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Tim Scott.

According to reports, Trump is planning to deliver a speech in Detroit to union members as the United Auto Workers continue their strike. This is seen as a counter-programming move, similar to the one he made last month when he appeared in an interview with Tucker Carlson on X/Twitter, as Fox News was presenting the first hour of the Milwaukee debate. It was a clear jab at Fox, which Trump frequently criticizes.

During a speech on Monday, he falsely claimed that “the last debate was the lowest-rated debate in history. That’s a good compliment, isn’t it?”

Perino has stated that she did not have any conversation with former President Trump or his team regarding his participation in the debate. This is in contrast to the first debate, where co-moderator Bret Baier had disclosed that he had spoken to the former president about it, and Fox executives had also met with him to discuss his involvement.

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