New England College to Host CNN Republican Presidential Primary Debate in New Hampshire | New England College

New England College to Host CNN Republican Presidential Primary Debate in New Hampshire

December 20, 2023

Updated: January 17, 2024

Statement from a CNN Spokesperson

With six days to go until the New Hampshire Primary, CNN is announcing a Town Hall this Thursday, January 18 with former Amb. Nikki Haley with Jake Tapper at 9pm ET from New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, following last night’s CNN Town Hall with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Wolf Blitzer. 

CNN is no longer moving forward with a New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary Debate, as only one qualifying candidate accepted our invitation to take the stage. We will continue to pursue other opportunities as the campaign season progresses through 2024, including candidate Town Halls. 


December 20, 2023

Event will take place two days before Granite Staters make their choice in the first-in-the-nation primary.

New England College is proud to announce it will host a globally televised CNN Republican presidential primary debate. The event will take place on January 21, 2024, in the Rosamond Page Putnam Center for the Performing Arts located on the New England College Campus in Henniker, N.H. The debate will air exclusively on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, and CNN Max.

“I am thrilled our students will have the opportunity to experience such a consequential debate on our campus just two days before the New Hampshire primary,” says Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance, Jr., President of New England College and veteran political scientist. “This is a rare chance to witness democracy in action as the candidates make their case to the country.”

For press and media credentialing questions, please reach out to

New England College’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) was created in 2002 by political science and history faculty who saw an opportunity to enhance NEC’s influence and outreach to students and the community. With widespread support and a generous grant from the Christian A. Johnson Fund, the CCE focuses on broadening and deepening traditional civic engagement in several areas:

  • College Convention: Every four years, NEC is the only college in the country that hosts a presidential primary for students. The College Convention coincides with New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. It allows the next generation of voters to come face-to-face with the people, issues, and process that shape presidential primary campaigns. Students do it all: listen to leading candidates, witness the media frenzy, engage with the media, interact with candidates, and maybe even get hired by campaigns on the spot.
  • Town Hall Series: As part of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status, NEC organizes and hosts town hall meetings with U.S. presidential candidates, campaign leaders, and election officials. Students gain access to top political players firsthand.
  • Candidate Debates: NEC hosts high-profile debates like the New Hampshire Gubernatorial and Congressional primary and general election races. Students are encouraged to engage with candidates and ask questions during debates.
  • Internships: NEC’s students can intern in places like Congressional offices in Washington, DC; the White House; the Office of the First Lady; and others as available.
  • Project Pericles: NEC is a founding college of Project Pericles, a national organization committed to civic and social engagement based on the principles and history of American democracy. NEC’s Pericles program uses theory and engagement to help students become personally involved in civic and socially responsible service.

For more information about New England College’s academic programs for politically minded students, visit


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