ABC, WMUR-TV and Facebook jointly hosted back-to-back Republican and Democratic debates from Saint Anselm College three days before the first-in-the-nation primary on Tuesday. The Republican debate included Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson. Charles Gibson moderated. Candidates were allowed to participate if they meet one of three criteria, "place first through fourth in Iowa, poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major New Hampshire surveys, or poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major national surveys." Thus, ABC News eliminated Republican Duncan Hunter.
ABC said the rules were quite inclusive, and that none of the candidates objected ahead of time. "In previous debates where the stage was more crowded you had to make sure all of the candidates got equal time," said David Chalian, ABC News political director. "Here you will have more time to go in depth on the issues." FULL TEXT TRANSCRIPT
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