CNN has announced its lineup and stage positioning for Tuesday’s Republican Presidential Debate from Las Vegas, with Donald Trump, the polling front-runner, taking the center podium. No surprise there, but the announcement made some news: New Jersey governor Chris Christie will take the mainstage, an uptick in his polling numbers getting him out of the not-ready-for-primetime debate of lower-pollers.
On the 1,400-seat Venetian Theatre stage for the fifth Republican primetime debate, from left to right, will be: John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Christie and Rand Paul. The lineup and positioning for the earlier debate will be George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham.
Podium order was determined by the average of the national polls from November and December. Wolf Blitzer will moderate the 8:30 PM ET primetime debate, with CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash joining Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt as questioners. The focus of the debate will be national security. CNN will begin its live coverage of the debates at 6 PM.