Republican candidates for president to debate in Salt Lake City March 21

Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-21 02:30:55-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah is about to get a big dose of GOP front-runner Donald Trump and the rest of the Republican field for president.

The Republican National Committee announced that a debate will be held in Salt Lake City on March 21, one day before the caucuses in Utah.

The Utah Republican Party said this will be the first time a presidential primary debate has been held here in Utah.

"We're usually a flyover state, but now the whole country is going to have its focus on Utah, so this is huge, this is a big deal," Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican representing Utah's 3rd District, said.

Utah Republicans said this is more than just a debate, it's a message.

"I think Utahns will make a difference this time around, and that's why I think you see the debate held here in Utah," said James Evans, Chair of the Utah Republican Party.

By the time the debate takes place, 60 percent of the delegates will already be accounted for. Utah Republicans said it's not far-fetched to say that Utah's 40 delegates could be the deciding factor in choosing the presidential nominee.

"A lot of times presidential races, by the time they roll around to Utah, they have come and gone, but there is still a real race on our hands," Chaffetz said.

This debate also means that the Beehive State should be buzzing with campaign stops from the likes of Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio--and whoever else is still standing next month.

"We are a state that punches above its weight politically, and I think the RNC and even the presidential candidates recognize that, and this is a state that they should visit," Evans said.

The venue for the debate and the network that will be broadcasting it have yet to be determined. Those decisions will be made by the RNC.