The unlabeled binder holds the veteran Fox News anchor’s questions for Thursday’s Republican primary #debate, for which he will serve as a moderator. Clamped inside it are newspaper clippings, memos to his researcher and outlines of what the hodgepodge of presidential candidates vying to top the GOP field have been saying about the issues and about each other.
It has become a primary-season ritual for Wallace, a fixture at Fox News for more than a decade, to challenge and goad the packed roster of Republican candidates. But this debate in Cleveland, the first of the 2016 election season, may be in a league of its own.
Aside from what Wallace calls the “Trump factor” — Donald Trump, the unpredictable tycoon whose off-the-cuff quips and slams have been roiling the GOP — there’s the unwieldy size of the field. Of the 17 declared candidates, Fox will allow only the top 10, as determined by five of the most recent national polls, into Thursday’s debate.
“There’s so doggone many,” said Wallace, 67, sitting at his desk in Fox’s Washington bureau. The decision to pack the stage was made above his pay grade, he adds. “Will [the debate] be as great as it would be if there were three or four candidates? No. But it’s clear from the polls, people are far from decided.”
Chris Wallace tapped the black three-ring binder resting on the corner of his desk. “I’ve got some doozies in there,” he said, eyebrow raised provocatively.