CNN, Fox News Reveal Qualifications for First GOP Presidential Primary Debates

The 2016 Republican presidential primary contest may feature sixteen or more candidates. Fox News and CNN recently announced the criteria that will be used to select the candidates that will be included in, and, in Fox News' case, excluded from, the first two GOP presidential primary debates.

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Barry Donegan
Barry Donegan is a writer, musician, and pro-liberty political activist living in Nashville, TN. Donegan served as Director-at-Large of the Davidson County Republican Party from 2009-2011 and was the Middle Tennessee Regional Coordinator over 30 counties for Ron Paul's 2012 Presidential Campaign. Follow him at facebook.com/barry.donegan and twitter.com/barrydonegan

In light of the fact that, according to Ballot Access News, the Republican National Committee decided not to establish rules for inclusion in the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates, the networks hosting the debates will each set their own criteria for candidates. The Washington Post is reporting that Fox News and CNN have announced the qualifications for their first debates. Considering the fact that there are 16 or more Republican candidates flirting with a bid at the White House, news networks have been struggling to come up with a way to fit all of the top contenders on one stage.

Fox News announced that it will include the top 10 candidates based on their averages in the five most recent national polls, calculated at 5 PM EST on August 4, leading up to its first debate on August 6 in Cleveland. The debate will be hosted by Megyn Kelly, Brett Baier, and Chris Wallace and will be co-presented by Facebook. Those candidates that fail to make the top 10 will be given airtime on Fox News on August 6.

The Washington Post‘s Matea Gold gave an example as to what Fox News’ debate field might look like if the debate were held today based on assumed candidates’ recent polling. “The top 10 contenders in the five most recent national polls are former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, real estate tycoon Donald Trump and former Texas governor Rick Perry, according to a Washington Post analysis. Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are a fraction of a point behind Perry,” wrote Gold.

Gold also pointed out some candidates who might not make the cut according to Fox News’ criteria. “Lagging behind those 12 are Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and former New York governor George Pataki,” she wrote.

CNN, on the other hand, has announced that it will include two debate rounds, a top tier round featuring the top 10 candidates in recent public polls, followed by a junior varsity round of all of the other candidates who have achieved a least 1% in a national poll. CNN‘s first debate, the second of the season, will take place on September 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. Hugh Hewitt and Jake Tapper are set to host the event. CNN will also require all candidates included in the debates to show that they have at least one paid campaign staffer in two of the four earliest voting states.

To be considered for inclusion in either debate, a candidate must have announced and properly filed his or her candidacy.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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