GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, on Jan. 26, 2016. Photo by Scott Morgan via Reuters
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, on Jan. 26, 2016. Photo by Scott Morgan via Reuters

Republican organizations will conduct viewing parties at four sites in Los Angeles County and two in Orange County for Thursday night’s debate, which is expected to involve seven of the party’s top eight presidential candidates.

The Los Angeles County watch parties will be held at:

— Busby’s Sports Bar, 3110 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica;

— DiPazza, 5205 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach;

— 200 E. Rowland St., Covina; and

— 27801 Avenue Scott (North), Valencia.

The Orange County watch parties will be held at:

— Liberty Lounge, above Skosh Monahan’s, 2000 Newport Blvd, Costa Mesa; and

— the Northwest Orange County Republican Headquarters, 11296 Beach Blvd., Stanton.

The debate will begin at 6 p.m. on Fox News Channel. It is being held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

The debate’s live stream will be made available for free without authentication on all desktop and mobile devices by FoxNews.com.

Front-runner Donald J. Trump has said he will not participate in the debate, calling a sarcastic press statement issued by Fox News on Tuesday the final straw.

The statement jokingly questioned how he would handle Russian president Vladimir V. Putin and Ayatollah Ali Khameni of Iran if he could not handle Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

The Trump campaign has said the billionaire businessman will participate in what it is billing as a “special event to benefit veterans organizations” to be held at Drake University in Des Moines, coinciding with the debate.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul regained a spot in the top-tier debate after failing to qualify for the most recent one, which was held Jan. 14 and carried by Fox Business Network.

If Trump does not participate in today’s debate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be at the center of the stage.

Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Paul will be to Cruz’s left. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be to Cruz’s right.

The arrangement of lecterns was determined by the candidates’ standing in the polls.

Kelly, “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier and “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace will moderate the debate.

“There will be policy topics that have been covered before, but not asked in the way we’re asking these questions and there will be some new issues that have not come up before,” Baier said Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s talk show “The Five.”

“The real deal is to try to get them off the talking points and to phrase the questions in a way that they don’t have an exit ramp to get back on their stump speech from the campaign trail.”

A debate involving second-tier candidates — former Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore — will precede the top-tier debate. Coverage will begin at 4 p.m. on Fox News Channel.

To qualify for the top-tier debate, candidates must place in the top six spots nationally in an average of the five most recent national polls, or place within the top five in Iowa or New Hampshire in an average of the five most recent Iowa or New Hampshire polls recognized by Fox News.

To qualify for the second-tier debate, candidates must register at least 1 percent in one of the five most recent national polls recognized by Fox News.

The polls must be conducted by major nationally and state-recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques — live interviewers, including both landlines and cellphones, and employ either random digit-dial or registration-based sampling methodologies.

—City News Service

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