FOX Business just announced their lineup for the GOP debate which will be held on Thursday, January 14. After months of calls to tighten the criteria for qualifying to be on the main debate stage for primetime in order to whittle down the still overly crowded GOP presidential candidate field, it appears that the network finally listened.
On Thursday, there will only be seven candidates on the main debate stage. The elimination of two who narrowly made recent GOP debates, due to more loose criteria, will leave some to wonder if one will debate at all.
Thursday’s debate will see former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul relegated to the kiddie debate which is held before the main debate. They will be joined by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
On the main debate stage, viewers will hear from a much smaller field who will now perhaps have more time to get their message, ideas, and across. Real estate mogul Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, renowned retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Ohio Governor John Kasich will all return to the main debate stage.
Rand Paul has threatened for weeks to boycott the debate completely if FOX Business did not meet his demand to allow him on the main debate stage regardless whether he made the cut given the criteria for participation. He announced that he will indeed be boycotting the debate on Thursday completely rather than appear on the pre-debate debate.
During an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Paul confirmed his decision to boycott saying, “It’s a mistake because the thing is we actually have been in the top five or six in most of the recent polls. In fact, last week in a national poll we were just one point out of fourth place. So I think it’s a mistake to try to exclude me from the national debate.”
He added, “I won’t participate in anything that’s not first tier because we have a first tier campaign.”
The criteria set by FOX Business was as follows.
The lineup was decided based on the results of national, New Hampshire and Iowa polling. To qualify for the prime-time debate, a candidate had to place in the top six in an average of recent national polls, or in the top five in an average of recent Iowa or New Hampshire polls.
The debate will be held at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center in North Charleston, S.C. The kiddie or happy hour debate will begin at 6 pm Eastern while the main stage debate will start at 9 pm Eastern.