Fox News announces candidate line-up for prime-time debate

Published August 05, 2015


Fox News has announced the line-up for the prime-time Republican presidential debate this Thursday, and here’s who qualified:

Real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The roster of 10 candidates was determined based on an average of the five most recent national polls. Trump as expected made the cut, securing the top slot. Right behind him were Bush and Walker, who each have posted strong numbers in recent surveys.

The drama, rather, was at the edge of the top 10. Christie and Kasich, who were hovering by that edge in recent polling, were able to qualify.

Kasich, who leads the state where the debate is being held, said in a statement, “As governor, I am glad to welcome my fellow debate participants to our great state and I look forward to discussing the issues facing our country with them on Thursday.”

But former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and several others will not be on the prime-time, 9 p.m. ET stage. The seven who did not make the top 10 will be invited to a separate 5 p.m. ET debate. Aside from Perry and Santorum, this includes Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; former HP head Carly Fiorina; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; former New York Gov. George Pataki; and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

The five polls included in the average that determined the line-up were conducted by Bloomberg, CBS News, Fox News, Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University.

The debates, hosted by Fox News and Facebook in conjunction with the Ohio Republican Party, will be held at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

With the primary campaign lately being rocked by Trump’s rise in the polls above the jam-packed field, the big question is how the other nine candidates will hold their own on the prime-time stage — and whether Trump will remain the front-runner after his debate debut.

For political outsiders like Trump and Carson, Democratic strategist Doug Schoen said, “The question is are they ready, literally and metaphorically, for prime-time?”

The debate will test whether they can articulate a “cogent narrative of what they’ll do to promote and provoke change in our country,” Schoen said.

Analysts have warned that Trump, whose bomb-throwing persona has seemingly fueled his climb, stands to lose traction if he can’t command the stage.

Steve Deace, who hosts a conservative radio talk show in Iowa, said: “His entire campaign is based on him being a blunt instrument” and if he holds back, “that would be the death knell for him.”

Plenty of candidates are eager to seize the spotlight from him. Ahead of the debates, Bush on Monday outlined his plan for improving border security and immigration enforcement.

Tough-talking Gov. Christie last week vowed to enforce marijuana laws if elected president, and tangled over the weekend with the teachers unions after saying on CNN they deserve a “punch in the face.”

Paul on Tuesday introduced an amendment to crack down on “sanctuary cities” by requiring local officials to notify the feds about the arrest of an illegal immigrant.

Trump, meanwhile, has continued to climb in the polls despite attracting the ire of fellow Republicans for recently questioning Sen. John McCain’s war record.

In the latest Fox News poll, Trump got the support of 26 percent of primary voters — the highest level of support for any candidate so far and up from 18 percent in mid-July.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, after the debate line-up was announced, touted the breadth of the 17-candidate primary field.

“Our field is the biggest and most diverse of any party in history and I am glad to see that every one of those extremely qualified candidates will have the opportunity to participate on Thursday evening,” he said. “Republicans across the country will be able to choose which candidate has earned their support after hearing them talk through the issues.”


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