Lester Holt, Kristen Welker and Hugh Hewitt to moderate third GOP debate

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NBC’s Lester Holt and Kristen Welker are set to moderate the third Republican primary debate alongside morning talk show host Hugh Hewitt, NBC announced on Wednesday.

The three will take the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami on Nov. 8, as the remaining GOP presidential hopefuls — those who can qualify — push to break away from the pack in the polls.

So far, five candidates have hit the Republican National Committee’s increasingly stringent requirements to make it onto the debate stage. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have all qualified, as has the current frontrunner, former President Donald Trump — who is set to again skip the debate in favor of his own rally in nearby Hialeah, Fla.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, has met the polling requirements but still needs to hit the 70,000-donor mark. And Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) needs both the donors and to garner 4 percent in one national poll.

Holt, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” co-moderated the first Democratic presidential primary debate of the 2020 cycle, alongside fellow NBC and MSNBC reporters Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart. He also served as the moderator for the first general election debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

NBC’s new “Meet the Press” host, Welker, will join Holt in Miami in November. Welker previously won praise for her role as a debate moderator, after deftly navigating the 2020 presidential debate between Joe Biden and Trump.

“Think we can all agree the winner is Kristen Welker,” “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon said at the time, calling the performance a “knockout.” Welker “did a bang-up job on the largest stage of any political journalist’s career,” Playbook wrote at the time.

Hewitt is the host of the nationally syndicated “Hugh Hewitt Show,” and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post. The conservative radio host previously worked in the Reagan administration.

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