NBC says Lester Holt, Kristen Welker to moderate third GOP Debate

NBC News has selected Lester Holt and Kristen Welker to serve as co-moderators for the third Republican presidential primary debate, which will take place next month in Miami, the network said Wednesday evening.

The Nov. 8 debate, which will span two hours and begin at 8 p.m., is not expected to feature the Republican party’s front-runner for the nomination: Former President Trump.

Trump has so far refused to participate in the traditional candidate forums of the current cycle, skipping the first two GOP debates hosted by Fox News and Fox Business, respectively, citing his double-digit polling lead.

Holt, the face of “NBC Nightly News,” has for several years been the network’s go-to anchor for prime-time political coverage, including presidential debates, party conventions and election nights.

Welker succeeded Chuck Todd and as the 13th moderator of “Meet the Press.” She is only the second woman to hold the position in the program’s long history and the first journalist of color to moderate it. Welker scored a wide-ranging interview with Trump last month that aired as part of her first broadcast at the helm.

Both Holt and Welker have experience moderating presidential debates and town halls during previous election cycles.

Holt most recently co-moderated the first presidential primary debate of the 2020 cycle from Miami in June 2019 and then served as a moderator for a debate NBC hosted from Las Vegas in February 2020.

Welker was a co-moderator for the final presidential debate between Trump and President Biden in October 2020 in Nashville.

Holt and Welker will be joined at the moderator table next month by conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt, host of “The Hugh Hewitt Show” on Salem Radio Network, which is partnering with NBC on the third debate along with the Republican Jewish Coalition and conservative streamer Rumble.

So far, only four candidates have qualified for the Nov. 8 forum: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, according to a recent New York Times tally.

Candidates have until Nov. 6 to meet the fundraising and polling requirements to qualify.

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