Brilyn Hollyhand, a 17-year-old Tuscaloosa native who has built a national reputation as a political commentator, believes the Republican presidential debate in Tuscaloosa will benefit the entire city. 

The first-ever debate will of its kind in Alabama will give Tuscaloosa a chance to shine on the national stage. But it’s also a big moment for Hollyhand, who founded the Truth Gazette at the age of 11 and has spent his teenage years as the conservative-leaning website’s editor-in-chief, interviewing officeholders and pundits while writing about politics. 

“I didn’t even in my wildest dreams ever imagine actually having them come here,” Hollyhand said of the Dec 6 debate, which will feature the top GOP presidential contenders at the University of Alabama’s Frank Moody Music Building. 

“Having all of the candidates right here in my own backyard is a pretty cool experience,” said Hollyhand, who is a junior at Tuscaloosa Academy. 

Hollyhand said he has advocated for holding a GOP presidential debate on a college campus since January of this year in an effort to engage younger voters. 

“As co-chair of the Republican National Committee’s inaugural Youth Advisory Council, my No. 1 priority is making sure we have college students represented at the debate, so we will be inviting UA students to fill a block of seating reserved for them,” he said. 

His interest in politics and how issues are covered first started during the 2016 presidential campaign. As a fifth-grader, he decided to explore different issues for himself and report on them. 

Hollyhand said he found that he had a passion for political reporting and that led to the creation of The Truth Gazette. The website contains his own reporting and interviews he has conducted with politicians from Alabama as well as national leaders. 

Former vice president Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr. and Alabama U.S. Sen. Katie Britt are just a few of the political heavyweights Hollyhand has interviewed.  

He’s also provided his political expertise during television interviews on “Fox and Friends,” “NBC News Now,” along with a host of other outlets. 

Hollyhand said the GOP presidential debate coming to Tuscaloosa represents a “full-circle moment” because he often travels the country to meet and interview politicians. 

While he will be attending the debate, he won’t just be observing. He will be working. 

“I’ll have all the candidates on my podcast ‘The Brilyn Hollyhand Show’ while they’re in town, but the day of the debate I will be working in my role as co-chair of the RNC’s Youth Advisory Council doing media interviews on behalf of the RNC, giving speeches at our pre-debate events, and making sure college students are featured in the debate,” Hollyhand said.  “… I have been appointed as the host/director of the official debate watch party and after-party sponsored by the AL(abama) GOP and RNC Youth Advisory Council.” 

About the debate 

The debate will be 7-9 p.m. Dec. 6 in the UA’s Frank Moody Music Building, 810 Second Ave. 

The lineup of candidates has not been set, but the last GOP presidential debate included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. Scott has since dropped out of the race.  

Former president Donald Trump has not participated in the three previous debates. 

Megyn Kelly of Sirius XM, Elizabeth Vargas of NewsNation, and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon, will moderate the debate. 

The debate will be broadcast live in Eastern and Central time zones on broadcast network The CW and on NewsNation’s cable presence, and live-streamed on and the video platform Rumble. Viewers in Mountain and Pacific time zones will be able to watch the debate live on NewsNation or see an encore presentation on CW television affiliates from 7-9 p.m. MT and 8-10 p.m. PT. Audio can be heard on SiriusXM Triumph channel 111. 

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