We thought the University of Houston had truly outdone itself when UH officials managed to get Matthew McConaughey to speak at the school's commencement earlier this year, but UH officials proved us wrong by getting in on the presidential campaign circuit.
On Tuesday, UH officials announced another big get for the university: UH will host a GOP presidential debate in February. And this won't be some run-of-the-mill debate, either.
The event, sanctioned by the Republican National Committee, is slated to be the final GOP debate before the crucial "Super Tuesday" primary contests in Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia on March 1. Alaska, Minnesota and Wyoming also will award delegates on that same day. All candidates who qualify are expected to participate in the debate, which will be presented in partnership with National Review.
At this point it's hard to predict who will actually qualify for the debate. Even though both former governor Rick Perry and *Scott Walker have bowed out of the race, it's still a crowded field and it's distinctly possible that all the current would-be GOP presidential candidates will hang on right up to Super Tuesday. This means that the whole crew, including Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Sen. Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson and (though it's looking increasingly unlikely) Jeb Bush and all the rest could be on a Houston stage slugging it out to try to persuade primary voters in a last-ditch effort that he or she is the best choice.
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“This debate comes at a pivotal moment in the election cycle. We’re delighted to host a national conversation with real-life impact on our community and country, and welcome an evening of engaging discourse to our campus," University of Houston System Chancellor and UH President Renu Khator said in a prepared statement today.
The debate will be shown in a prime-time nationwide broadcast on NBC News and Telemundo, and there will be live digital coverage online. On top of that, UH will get to be the setting (of course) for both the pre-debate and post-debate coverage. And there's no telling what will happen. With a little bit of luck, UH could even be where Cruz finally drops the best-buddies act and goes for the jugular with Trump right on national television.
Of course, there's really no telling how things will shape up going into the last major Republican pre-primary debate, but there are two things we can count on. It will be a great show and it will happen right here in Houston.
Correction 10/14/15 at 12:00 p.m.: An earlier version of this story confused Scott Walker with Rick Santorum. The Press regrets the error.