Fox News loosened its debate rules on Tuesday, making way for candidates polling poorly in the crowded Republican field to participate in the Aug. 6 event.
The network confirmed to msnbc Wednesday that it will no longer require candidates to be polling at least 1% in national polls to participate in Fox’s 5 p.m. debate, an event Fox created to accommodate the candidates who aren’t polling in the top 10 in the Republican field before the primetime debate later in the evening.
“Due to the overwhelming interest in the Fox News Facebook Debate Event Night on Aug. 6 and in a concerted effort to include and accommodate the now 16 Republican candidate field — the largest in modern political history — Fox News is expanding participation in the 5PM/ET debate to all declared candidates whose names are consistently being offered to respondents in major national polls, as recognized by Fox News,” Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente told Politico in a statement.
In recent weeks, GOP candidates have struggled to boost their poll numbers amid Donald Trump’s meteoric rise to political prominence, and few have managed to get a word in edgewise, either. The changed rule will also add some diversity to the debates, as the party’s only female candidate – former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina – will get a spot on the early stage.
A respected South Carolina senator (Lindsey Graham) and a former governor (George Pataki) will also gain a podium on the earlier debate stage, joining Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. John Kasich, and Sen. Rick Santorum, who are each polling in single digits.
According to NBC News’ analysis, Fox’s primetime debate is expected to include Donald Trump, Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Rick Perry.ff