Last night in Simi Valley may have been the last “JV” debate of the Campaign 2016 cycle.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), and former New York Gov. George Pataki debated for two hours before the three-hour main event with the remaining 11 GOP presidential hopefuls at the Reagan Library.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry would have also been in the “happy hour” debate, but suspended his campaign before debate night.
CNN scored a new audience record last night with 22.9 million viewers.
Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer told CNN today that they’d be re-evaluating the two-debate format going into the Oct. 28 CNBC debate in Boulder, Colo.
That comes after the first Democratic National Committee debate, which is Oct. 13 in Nevada.
“The interest, enthusiasm and intensity we’re seeing around this field is unbelievable. It speaks volumes to the quality and diversity of the candidates we have on that stage,” Spicer said.
“I doubt there will be an undercard,” he said of the Oct. 28 debate. “I think the criteria will still be going forward. CNBC has yet to publish it. We’ll be talking to them in the coming days.”
That criteria may get a push if any other candidates decide to go the way of Perry.
“We’ve got to look at see where we are six weeks from now. You saw Governor Perry drop out. The undercard turns into an interview. I think we need to see where the race stands in a couple weeks and make a decision what’s best for the party, what’s best for the candidates and go forward,” Spicer said.
“I think we have to look at where the race is going. I’m not saying yes or no” to one debate instead of two, he clarified. “The chairman of the party, Reince Priebus, will talk to the folks at CNBC. We sat down with both FOX and CNN early in this process and said, because we have such an historic number of folks on stage, we think that we would like to see a larger debate night, where we had two segments. Quiet as we head into November, right before the Iowa caucuses, is that still the case? Are there that number of candidates that justify a second debate on debate night? We’ll have to have that conversation.”
Spicer stressed he’s “very pleased with all the debates, all the candidates.”
“I really enjoy the process right now. I think the American people are the big winners. They’re tuning in and seeing the diversity of this field. The quality of people that we’re putting out there and all the way down from the undercard all the way up to the main stage. You’re talking about real serious people with real serious solutions.”