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Fox News to host Utah GOP debate at Salt Palace



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SALT LAKE CITY — New details about Utah's Republican presidential debate were released Monday, nearly one month after the debate was announced.

The debate, which will be held Monday, March 21, will air on Fox News at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. The moderators for the debate will be Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly. The debate will begin at 7 p.m. MST and will last two hours.

Fox News announced that all remaining candidates will be invited to participate in the debate. However, Republican front-runner Donald Trump told media at an event in Florida Friday that "we've had enough debates" and that he had no intentions to participate.

"I mean, how many times do you have to give the same answer to the same question," he said.

Trump added that he was not even aware of the upcoming debate in Utah.

"I didn't know there was a next debate," Trump said. "Can I be honest with you? I think it's time to end the debates. No, I didn't know about the debate in Salt Lake City."

The viability of the debate may be in question as a result of Tuesday's primary contests in Florida and Ohio. Should Trump win Tuesday, his eventual nomination may be imminent.

State GOP Chairman James Evans said more than 50,000 people have already signed up for debate tickets. The national party, though, has yet to release how many tickets Utah will be allocated for the debate, but that preference will be given to those who registered online to attend the Republican caucus on March 22, Evans added.

"We want the best of Utah represented in the audience," he said.

Utahns can still sign up at the party's website for tickets, Evans said. Those that have signed up should expect to be notified by email at the end of the week.

At least two Republican presidential candidates scheduled campaign stops in Utah this week, but whether they show up depends on how they fare in several primary elections Tuesday night.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose event schedule shows a swing through Utah on Wednesday and Thursday, could lose his home state according to polls. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks to have a better shot at winning his home state than Rubio does in Florida. Kasich is scheduled to be in Utah on Friday.

"Whether or not they actually come, I think, is completely a function of what happens on Tuesday," said Chris Karpowitz, co-director of the BYU Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy.

Meantime, Chelsea Clinton will be in Salt Lake City on Tuesday to stump for her mother, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Both Republicans and Democrats are participating March 22 in the state's first presidential preference caucuses.

Contributing: Dennis Romboy, Ladd Egan, Andrew Adams

Josh Furlong

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