Fox News Expands Debates with Forum for Second-Tier GOP Presidential Candidates

After the New Hampshire Union-Leader announced that it would host a debate for the Republican presidential candidates who would likely be left out of Fox News' GOP presidential debate on August 6, Fox News announced that it would host an additional junior varsity debate for second-tier candidates who fail to qualify for the network's prime time debate.

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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

After Fox News announced its original plan to only include the top 10 Republican presidential candidates, according to the five most recent pre-debate national polls, in its August 6 prime time Republican presidential debate at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH, New Hampshire Republicans authored an open letter asking Fox News to expand its debate, expected to be the first of the 2016 presidential primary season, to include all of the announced and qualified candidates.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Union-Leader announced this week that it would host a forum on August 6 for the GOP candidates who fail to meet Fox News’ qualifications. National Journal notes that, shortly thereafter, Fox News changed plans and announced that it would host a 90-minute junior varsity debate in the afternoon on August 6 in addition to the prime-time debate later that evening. The second-tier debate will include all qualified candidates who fail to make the top ten but who have achieved at least 1% in national polls. It is not yet known whether the New Hampshire Union-Leader still plans to host its debate now that Fox News is inviting the same candidates to debate on the same day.

This year’s Republican presidential primary features a crowded field. According to Yahoo! Politics, candidates Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Rick Perry have already announced their campaigns, and additional campaign announcements are expected from Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and John Kasich in the near future.

[RELATED: CNN, Fox News Reveal Qualifications for First GOP Presidential Primary Debates]

The format for Fox News’ August 6 debate now mirrors that of CNN’s September 16 Republican candidate forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, which will also include a second debate for less-popular candidates who have achieved at least 1% in national polls. CNN published the complete criteria for inclusion in its September 16 debates on its website earlier this month.

Fox News’ junior-varsity debate will take place on August 6 at 1:00 PM EST at Quicken Loans Arena and will feature Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum as hosts. The network’s prime time debate will happen on the same day and in the same location at 9:00 PM EST, with anchors Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and Megyn Kelly hosting.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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