The GOP field is full of 2016 presidential hopefuls – from Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul to conservative firebrand Ben Carson and former Fox News host Mike Huckabee, among others, many of whom have yet to formally declare their candidacy – but not all of them will get to participate in the first Republican debate of the 2016 campaign. According to information first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by NBC News, Fox News, which will host the event Aug. 6 in Cleveland ”will require participants to place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent national polls in the run-up to the event,” noting that “[n]o GOP primary debate has ever featured more than 10 candidates.” Fox News has used similar criteria for past debates.
Not to completely exclude those polling poorly, the right-leaning cable news channel will offer some air time to those who don’t make the cut. NBC News counts as many as 18 potential GOP presidential candidates.
“We support and respect the decision Fox News has made which will match the greatest number of candidates we have ever had on a debate stage,” RNC Chair Reince Priebus said in a statement.
According to recent national polls, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – who has not yet officially announced his candidacy – leads the GOP pack with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz and Paul rounding out the top five.
Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace will moderate the debate.
CNN has set its own debate rules for a Sept. 16 GOP primary debate, according to Politico. CNN will divide the debate into two parts – one with candidates who rank in the top 10 according to polls, and another for candidates who crack at least 1% in polls, according to the report.