CNN will rely on two Washington-based hosts and one of its primetime anchors for the next round of debates among Democratic candidates for president.
Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and Don Lemon will moderate a two-night series on CNN July 30 and 31 during which 20 candidates will debate each other. The media venues for these events are determined by the Democratic National Committee, but are shaping up to be massive generators of ratings for the networks that show them. More than 15 million people tuned in for a broadcast of the first of two debates across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, and nearly 18.1 million viewers tuned in for a second night.
CNN will broadcast the event across its flagship cable network, CNN International and CNN en Espanol. The AT&T-owned network will also stream live for free on CNN.com and CNN’s mobile apps.
The network said it expected to air live a draw to determine the lineup for each night on July 18 in the 8 p.m. ET hour on CNN. More than 20 Democratic candidates are bidding for the nomination, but the network is bound by rules that say only 20 candidates, split across two nights, are eligible to participate. The candidates have to register 1% support in three qualified polls or have 65,000 unique donors to their campaign, with a minimum of 200 different donors per state in at least 20 states to qualify.
The DNC plans a total of 12 presidential primary debates for the 2020 election cycle. Six will be held in 2019, and the other six will be held in 2020.
CNN is following NBC’s recent strategy of using multiple anchors to moderate the event, rather than a single on-air personality. NBC News utilized Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd and Jose Diaz-Balart across different hours of its broadcasts.