With the final lineup set for the first Republican presidential debate, the lowest polling candidates are reacting -- some angrily -- to being left out of the main event.
"The idea that they have left out the runner-up for the 2012 nomination, the former four-term governor of Texas, the governor of Louisiana, the first female Fortune 50 CEO, and the 3-term Senator from South Carolina due to polling seven months before a single vote is cast is preposterous," Rick Santorum communications manager Matt Beynon said in a statement Tuesday.
Debate host Fox News announced that Santorum, who won 11 states in the 2012 GOP primary, along with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore and former New York Gov. George Pataki, will square off ahead of the prime-time event Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio. The crowded field of 17 candidates prompted Fox to limit the main debate to the top ten highest polling candidates, as judged by five recent national polls.
"While FOX is taking a lot of heat, the RNC deserves as much blame for sanctioning this process. They should not be picking winners and losers. That's the job of the voters," Beynon added.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich made the cut for the later debate.
However most of the lower polling candidates had a more positive reaction than Santorum.
"I look forward to answering questions on Thursday in Cleveland. I continue to be encouraged by the support of conservative activists and grassroots Republicans across the country," Fiorina said in a statement.
"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," Perry tweeted.
The failed 2012 candidate will have the top slot in the 5 p.m. debate after having been edged out of making the later showdown by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
After nabbing the last spot on stage for the debate being held in his home state, Kasich gave a subtle hint on why GOP voters should choose him: "It's only fitting that this phase of the Republican presidential nomination begins in Ohio—the Mother of Presidents. After all, no Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio."