The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in the Orange County city of Yorba Linda was chosen to host the first Governor recall debate on Friday.
Organized by the Richard Nixon Foundation, the debate will take place on August 4th starting at 6 PM and lasting for 90 minutes. Hugh Hewitt, the president of the Richard Nixon Foundation, will moderate the debate. Hewitt and the debate panelists, KTTV news anchors Christine Devine and Elex Michaelson, and former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, will not be sharing questions for candidates before the debate.
Looking forward to moderating debate w/ CA Recall candidates Cox, Elder, Faulconer Kiley and Ose at @nixonfoundation on 8/4. Joining me asking questions will be @FOXLA @DevineNews @Elex_Michaelson and Nixon Seminar co-chair Ambassador @robertcobrien. @Caitlyn_Jenner invited.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) July 23, 2021
Five of the recall candidates will attend the debate, all of whom have been at the top of recent polls. 2018 GOP Gubernatorial candidate John Cox, radio host Larry Elder, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), and former Congressman Doug Ose are set to attend after accepting invitations.
Invites were also sent to another candidate, former Olympian and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, as well as to Governor Gavin Newsom. However, due to filming commitments in Australia, Jenner declined the invite while Governor Newsom did not respond to the request. Besides Newsom, all other invites had been sent to Republicans largely due to the Democratic Party focusing on keeping Newsom in office and not producing a Democratic candidate in the recall.
“The debate participants were chosen by applying the Richard Nixon Foundation’s proprietary internal metrics that the Foundation has used to select speakers and debate participants at the Nixon Library for more than 30 years,” said the Foundation in the release.
While no topics were announced on Friday, the August 4th debate will likely cover after-policies of the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness, housing issues, state drought, wildfires, and other current issues challenging California today.
“A lot of these guys have not had a lot of media attention, at least compared to the 2003 recall,” explained former lobbyist Harry Schultz to the Globe on Friday. “Elder has had constant radio experience, and Kiley has been active in politics. But Faulconer, less than a year after leaving the San Diego Mayorship, and Cox, 3 years removed from the 2018 Governor’s race, have been only active in giving speeches. And then there is Ose, who has only been even more removed, also only giving speeches. It will be an interesting debate.”
“You can see why Newsom isn’t going though. He’s turned down debates before one-on-one with candidates saying that he would rather do his job as Governor, but if he goes, everyone will gang up on him most likely. But if he slips farther into the polls as August wears on, he may do a final debate somewhere like Carter did to Reagan during the 1980 election.”
“But right now, it’s those 5, and all have significant support. Again, it will be interesting to see where the chips fall after it.”
A second debate in Yorba Linda, tentatively scheduled for August 22nd, was also announced, with the same 6 candidates and Newsom being invited to that one as well. Another debate not held by the Nixon Foundation is also likely between late July and early September.
The recall election is due to be held on September 14th, with mail-in ballots starting to go out a month before.
[UPDATE: Elder’s team announced on July 24th that he would not make the debate due to a pre-existing commitment to a fundraiser in Bakersfield with Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield).]