Image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
Image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Republican organizations will conduct viewing parties at five sites in Los Angeles County for Tuesday’s debate involving the party’s top nine presidential candidates.

The watch parties will be held at:

— 200 E. Rowland St., Covina;

— Diamond Bar Golf Course, 22751 E. Golden Springs Drive, Diamond Bar;

— Busby’s, 3110 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica

— 26037 Huntington Lane, Valencia; and

— Barney’s Beanery, 1037 Broxton Ave., Westwood.

The debate will begin at 6 p.m. on CNN. It is being held at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer, who will moderate the debate, said in an interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday that the focus will be on “national security, the war on terrorism, international affairs.”

CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt will join Blitzer in questioning the candidates.

In preparation for the debate, Blitzer, Bash and Hewitt met in a conference room with producers and researchers to prepare questions.

“What we’re doing is writing questions that will allow the viewers out there … to better appreciate where these candidates stand on the most important issues,” Blitzer said.

There is one change in the field for the fifth in a series of debates from the last top tier debate held Nov. 10 in Milwaukee, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie qualifying, based on his average on polls taken in New Hampshire, site of the nation’s first primaries for both major political parties. This is the first debate to include results from state polls to determine the top-tier participants.

Candidates had to meet one of three criteria in polls conducted between Oct. 29 and Sunday and recognized by CNN — average at least 3.5 percent nationally; at least 4 percent in Iowa, site of the nation’s first caucuses that begin the process of selecting delegates for the national conventions, or at least 4 percent in New Hampshire.

Former Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also qualified for the top-tier debate because of their New Hampshire averages. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul did not meet any of the criteria, but was included by showing viability in Iowa in a Fox News poll released Sunday morning.

“In the light of new polling released this morning and in the spirit of being as inclusive as possible, CNN has decided to include Sen. Rand Paul in the prime-time debate,” a network spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Businessman Donald J. Trump, the front-runner in the race for the nomination, will be at the center of the stage. Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson will be to Trump’s right and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to his left.

To Carson’s right will be Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Fiorina and Kasich. To Cruz’s left will be former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Christie and Paul.

A debate involving second-tier candidates — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki — will precede the top-tier debate. Coverage will begin at 3 p.m. on CNN.

—City News Service

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