As of Sunday night, when it stopped taking submissions, CNN had received 4,926 questions from users on the consumer-generated video site -- far more than double the 2,000 it received for the Democratic debate the two companies co-hosted in July.
CNN staffers, in concert with the debate's host, Anderson Cooper, have already waded through the questions and whittled them down to some 200, 40 of which will be selected to be asked of the candidates in the debate at 8 p.m. Wednesday, said David Bohrman, CNN’s Washington bureau chief.
While he said Republican candidates may have feared that the questions would have a liberal bias, the network is taking care to choose questions that ask the Republican candidates to explain and their stance on issues particular to their party.
"We're looking for a serious debate, a Republican debate," Bohrman added. "We're going to weed out the obvious sort of Democratic gotcha grenades that are there to just be disruptive. The campaigns were all nervous that there'd be this leftist Web Democratic sense of the questions, and we're going to weed that part out."
CNN and YouTube are co-hosting the debate with the Republican Party of Florida at the Mahaffey Theater at the Progress Energy Center for the Arts in St. Petersburg. The network will also live-stream the debate online and run continual updates on its Web ticker at CNNPolitics.com.
The event is the second of two such two-hour debates in which viewers submitted questions through YouTube, and it comes at a time when many television networks are pairing with new-media companies to inject relevance into their debate coverage.
On Monday, ABC News announced a partnership with young-skewing social-networking site Facebook to deliver political-campaign-related content to the site's 56 million users. MTV has also been hosting debates with the candidates through News Corp.'s MySpace.
The Republican debate will be televised live on CNN and sister channel CNN Headline News. CNN is also surrounding the event itself with ancillary coverage, including a special Anderson Cooper 360 post-debate hour at 10 p.m. and political documentary Broken Government: Campaign Assassins hosted by Campbell Brown at 11 p.m.