Fox News’s Bret Baier is scheduled to host a televised forum with the contenders for Speaker of the House — an unusual move that follows Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) unprecedented ouster as Speaker.
House Majority Leader Scalise (R-La.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) were originally scheduled to participate in the event on Monday at 6 p.m. EST.
The contenders would all appear on the same stage together, according to two sources familiar with the plans, a format that Fox News is billing as a “joint interview” rather than a “debate.”
Soon after the event was announced, however, the plans were thrown into question after some GOP members expressed skepticism about the prudence of such a debate – and one candidate pulled out.
“I still haven’t made a decision on my candidacy for speaker, but I know one thing for sure. I will not be participating in the televised debate,” Hern wrote on X hours after the event was announced. “We need to make this decision as a conference, not on TV. The Republican conference needs a family discussion.”
Another candidate is aiming to adjust the schedule so that the candidates talk to the GOP conference first.
“Mr. Jordan is always happy to share his plan for the country, but he believes it is crucial to meet with the GOP conference before the event,” a spokesperson for the Ohio lawmaker said in a statement first shared with CNN.
The network said Baier will “press the congressmen on who should be the next Speaker of the House and discuss the issues facing Congress and the Republican party going forward.”
Scalise and Jordan — the latter of whom former President Trump endorsed for Speaker overnight Friday — have both officially announced their candidacies. Hern, who leads the largest conservative caucus in the House, is considering a formal bid but has not yet launched one, aiming to contact every member of the House Republican Conference before announcing his decision.
The televised forum reflects the highly unusual nature of the race to replace McCarthy — and the intense public interest it is garnering.
Though it will be televised nationally, the only people who may cast a ballot for Speaker are members of the House.
House Republicans are scheduled to have a closed-door candidate forum Tuesday, and then vote internally on a nominee Wednesday. That nominee will go up against House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on the House floor, where they will need to secure a majority of members present and voting for a candidate in order to secure the gavel — which could be a tough task in the slim GOP majority.
Both Scalise and Jordan have been raking in endorsements as they speak to their colleagues to build up support for their bids. But even those who have a preferred candidate say that the race is close, with some predicting it could take days or weeks for the GOP conference to coalesce around a candidate that can win on the house floor.
Punchbowl News first reported the Fox News plans.
Baier hosts “Special Report” on Fox News, the network’s 6 p.m.-hour show. He was one of the moderators of the first Republican presidential debate in August.
Updated: 12:44 p.m.