Fox News has announced the candidates who qualified for its August 6 prime-time Republican presidential primary debate, which is set to kick off at 9 p.m. EST at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Anchors Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and Megyn Kelly will moderate the televised event. Facebook and the Ohio Republican Party have been tapped as sponsors.
Candidates set to participate in the prime-time debate include billionaire Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Fox News chose to limit its prime-time debate to only 10 participants and selected qualified candidates based on a top 10 average of 5 recent polls by Bloomberg, CBS News, Fox News, Quinnipiac University, and Monmouth University.
However, in response to complaints that serious candidates with low poll numbers are being left out of the top-tier debate, the news network has invited those who did not qualify to appear in a 60-minute junior varsity debate, moderated by Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum, which will appear on Fox News at 5 p.m. on August 6, prior to the prime-time contest. Those who fell short of the top 10 include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The network’s prime-time debate pre-show coverage will begin immediately after the junior varsity debate.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry responded optimistically to his failure to qualify for the prime-time contest and tweeted, “I look forward to being @FoxNews 5pm debate for what will be a serious exchange of ideas & positive solutions to get America back on track.”
However, according to CNN, Matt Beynon, a spokesperson for former Sen. Rick Santorum, called the candidate selection process “incredibly flawed” and said, “While FOX is taking a lot of heat, the [Republican National Committee] deserves as much blame for sanctioning this process. They should not be picking winners and losers. That’s the job of the voters, particularly those in Iowa and New Hampshire who have the role of voting first.”
Following Fox News’ announcement, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, “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. Republicans across the country will be able to choose which candidate has earned their support after hearing them talk through the issues.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich almost fell short of being chosen for the prime-time debate, which is taking place in his home state. However, his 3% polling average, tying him with Chris Christie for last place among those participating, was just enough to qualify.
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