The Cutline

Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on moderating first GOP debate: Get them off their talking points

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Cutline

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Cavuto (AP)

On Thursday, Fox News is co-hosting yet another Republican debate--its fourth this year, not including Mike Huckabee's Dec. 3 Presidential Forum.

But this will be the first debate for Neil Cavuto, Fox News Channel anchor and managing editor of business news for Fox Business, who is moderating the proceedings alongside Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. (Bret Baier will host the two-hour primetime event from Sioux City, Iowa.)

"I had moderated other, lower-level debates before at CNBC," Cavuto told Yahoo News on Tuesday after landing in Iowa. "But this is my first on the grand stage, so to speak."

Cavuto drew moderating duty for tomorrow's event because of the heightened importance of economic issues in the 2012 race.

"Given my background, I'm sort of the finance guy," Cavuto said. "Megyn, with her background as a lawyer, will cover the legal issues. And Chris will cover the drama on Capitol Hill. But since so much of the drama on the Hill this year is about economic policy, there's potential for crossover."

Cavuto said his primary goal in his first debate is to get the candidates off their talking points. "Each candidate comes into this with their agendas and armed with talking points," Cavuto said. "But as a moderator, our job is to get them off those as much as possible. Seasoned veterans like [Mitt] Romney and [Newt] Gingrich, they've done this before. It's not a surprise they're good at it."

But Cavuto knows the debates are good for soundbytes, too--and he was one of the few pundits who did not think Romney made a misstep at last weekend's ABC/Yahoo News debate with his now-infamous $10,000 bet.

"We've all said things like 'I'll bet you a million dollars,' but people are focusing on the fact that he's very, very rich," Cavuto said. "The fact that's he's a very wealthy guy, that he's successful businessman is to his credit. He shouldn't hide from that. I think it's much ado about nothing."

And Cavuto, for one, does not have debate fatigue. "I don't think you can have too many debates," he said. "There are not a lot of debates in Russia. There are not a lot of debates in China. There are not a lot of debates in countries that say they are for democracy, but don't practice it. No matter how many of them get circus-like or histrionic, there is always something interesting to come out of them."

So does Cavuto think he'll be asking a question on Thursday to the next president?

"It's hard to say," Cavuto said. "I guess my answer is, any one of them could be [president]. I can remember in 1992 watching seven democratic candidates--including Bill Clinton and Paul Tsongas and five others none of us remember--and it looked like the 'Seven Dwarves.' And that's what we called them: 'The Seven Dwarves.' And as we all know, one of them became president. I didn't think that was possible. So I think to bet against any one of them would be foolish."

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