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Tucker Carlson's return to television and live interviews with presidential candidates may spark fireworks
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Tucker Carlson's return to television and live interviews with presidential candidates may spark fireworks

Tucker Carlson may spark fireworks Friday as he goes head to head with presidential nominees live on stage at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa.

BlazeTV's coverage of the "Midwest's largest gathering of Christians seeking cultural transformation in the family, church, government, and more," featuring Tucker Carlson interviewing a slate of presidential candidates, begins at 10 a.m. ET Friday morning.

The former Fox News Channel personality has a history of holding nothing back and has conducted heated interviews with some of this year's summit participants in the past. His individual on-stage interviews with presidential candidates at this year's summit in the run-up to the 2024 election may well prove to be extra spicy.

In a preview of what may be in store for viewers, at last year's summit, Tucker was adamant about voters holding would-be political leaders' feet to the fire.

"If you continue to get leaders, leaders that you vote for, whose campaigns you fund, who can look directly into a camera and say the single most important thing in the world is, in a material sense, totally unrelated to your life or the life of any of the other 350 million people who live here, that’s a huge problem," Carlson said during a speech at the 2022 FAMiLY Leadership Summit.

Prior to leaving Fox News, Carlson openly shared pointed opinions on conservative political figures, regularly raising some Republican viewers' hackles.

"In all the ways that matter, Nikki Haley is a member in good standing of the most protected class of all — upper income, liberal white ladies with fashionable political views. She may be running to be the Republican nominee, but she is fundamentally indistinguishable from the neoliberal donor base of the Democratic Party," Carlson said of former Governor Nikki Haley in February.

Haley is among the confirmed participants at this year's summit.

"Nikki Haley believes in collective racial guilt. She thinks Ukraine's borders are more important than our own. She believes identity politics is our future," Carlson also said of the former South Carolina governor.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, another summit interviewee, condemned Carlson's coverage of the January 6 riot at the Gridiron Club dinner in March without calling Carlson out by name. Pence rebuked Carlson's portrayal of rioters as sightseers or tourists.

Carlson, an outspoken critic of surgery and chemical interventions on children with gender dysphoria, was devastatingly blunt in an interview with then Governor Asa Hutchinson two years ago. Hutchinson had just vetoed a bill that would have prevented physicians from prescribing puberty blockers and/or surgically castrating children who believe they are transgender.

"I think of you as a conservative. Here you've come out publicly as pro-choice on the question of chemical castration of children. What changed? ... We're talking about minors, children here ... why do you think it's important for conservatives to make certain that children can block their puberty? Why is that a conservative value?"

One issue almost certain to be on the table during the conference is the United States' involvement in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Carlson is openly opposed to the war, while some of the Republican nominees he will be interviewing at the summit appear openly hawkish.

Whether it is the Russia-Ukraine war, January 6, transgender surgery for kids, abortion, or other controversial topics, one thing is certain: Carlson will not shy away from pressing this year's slate of Republican candidates to defend their positions. Voters will surely be the wiser for it.

Interviews of presidential candidates at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit have sparked controversy in the past. In the run-up to the 2016 election, pollster Frank Luntz interviewed then-nominee Trump at the summit along with several other Republican presidential candidates. Trump made a remark about Sen. John McCain during the interview, saying McCain was a war hero, but that he, Trump, liked "people that weren't captured."

"The FAMiLY Leader is thrilled to partner with BlazeTV to bring this unique content to a national audience looking for a better vision for America’s future. BlazeTV brings insightful and inspiring voices to Americans, and we are grateful that commitment will continue with the FAMiLY Leadership Summit," FAMiLY Leader president and CEO Bob Vander Plaats told TheBlaze Monday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), former Vice President Mike Pence (R), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), author and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy (R), former United Nations Amb. and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) have all confirmed their attendance at the 2023 FAMiLY Leadership Summit: Principle over Politics.

Former President Donald Trump (R), though invited, will not be participating in the summit, Vander Plaats confirmed Tuesday morning in a tweet finalizing the lineup. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), President Joe Biden (D), and Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. were also invited, but will not be participating.

Glenn Beck will be interviewing Tucker Carlson after the summit.

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