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EXCLUSIVE: Conservative Talk Radio Hosts Weigh in on GOP Debate Criteria

Breitbart News reached out to leading conservative talk radio hosts to find out what exactly their listeners are saying about the upcoming GOP primary presidential debate, which will feature the top 10 candidates on the debate stage while the other six candidates will have a secondary event.

Fox News and Facebook are hosting the first GOP primary presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 6th, but in order to accommodate the 16 official GOP candidates, Fox News set out debate criteria in order for the candidates to make the debate stage that evening. One of the requirements is that the GOP candidates who make the top ten out of an average of five national polls will make the debate stage where Fox News will moderate and air the event. The others will participate in a secondary forum.

Conservative radio host Bill Bennett spoke exclusively to Breitbart News about how his listeners are responding to the debate criteria where, as it stands now, the only Indian-American Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and the only GOP female candidate Carly Fiorina are on the cusp of making the cut.

“I would say that most of my audience would prefer to have all the GOP candidates on one stage, at least for the first debate. They don’t think we should be excluding certain candidates this early in the primary. I agree with them,” Bennett told Breitbart News. “At least for the first debate or two, we should give all the candidates a chance to make their case before a national audience. If we do, I think the debate should be at least two hours long.”

Bennett highlighted the time constraint issue.

“Lincoln and Douglas went for more than three hours and there were only two of them. I do applaud the RNC though for shortening the total number of debates. We can’t have an extended primary debate season like we had in 2012 where we start to bleed our candidates dry,” Bennett added.

Radio host Howie Carr also spoke to Breitbart News about the debate criteria.

Carr, host of the “Howie Carr Show,” is broadcasted on at least seven New Hampshire stations and is also aired on roughly 25 stations across the northeast, so he has a wide range of listeners who have weighed in on the debate requirements.

“Awhile back, I anticipated that as crunch time arrived for the Fox debate, the candidates who didn’t seem to be making the cut would start complaining,” Carr told Breitbart News. “So for a couple of months now, I’ve been asking the candidates on the fringe how they felt about maybe not making the cut.”

Carr stated that both Fiorina and Jindal have said they plan to abide by the rules.

“I believe Carly actually said the last time we had her on was that she had learned a long time ago to worry about things you can change, not events you can’t change,” Carr recalled. “She also said she was confident everything would work out.”

“My listeners, as far as I can tell, like both of them a lot. About Jindal, I’ve heard more than once, ‘He’s so smart and articulate, it’s too bad he doesn’t have a chance,’” Carr stated. “I think my listeners, like me, are sorry they’re not making the cut but… 10 is too many for a debate. Hell, in 2012, six were too many.”

Carr added that too many candidates during a time-limited debate would take away from the top contenders.

“I’ll tell you who didn’t get a good response last week: Rick Santorum, when he called for two debates, drawing straws for placement, odds-evens, etc. People were texting in, ‘Go home Rick’ and ‘Can’t this guy get a job?’ and ‘This guy hurt Romney more at the end than Obama did.’ It sounds like sour grapes to complain about being excluded,” Carr recalled.

On the issue of the only GOP female candidate and only GOP Indian-American candidate possibly not making the stage, he added, “I don’t think ‘diversity’ is a big issue here. Carson’s in, so are the two ‘Hispanic’ senators.”

He said all the candidates have been to New Hampshire numerous times, concluding, “To the victor belongs the spoils.”

Conservative talk radio host Lars Larson of the “Lars Larson Show” agreed with Carr on the issue of time.

“I would love to see all of them in there, the only problem is—the reaction I get from my audience and my reaction personally—is… if the total length of the debate is only say 90 minutes, then you’re down to four to five minutes per candidate,” Larson explained to Breitbart News.

He added that in those four to five minutes, there must also be time for asking questions, which leads to “everybody gets a tiny little taste that’s only a little bit longer than a campaign commercial to hear each candidate on each subject.”

Because of the issue of time, Larson understands the criteria cut off, adding it shouldn’t be changed to accommodate race or gender of particular candidates.

“I understand why they have to put the limits on,” Larson concluded.

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