As you may know, the first 2016 Republican presidential debate is taking place on August 6 from Cleveland, Ohio. Until now, the details for how Fox News, and the Republican National Committee, would whittle down the large GOP field to fit on a debate stage were up for heated discussion. As of today, we know the details and what the criteria will be.

Report from the Dallas Morning News:

It’s official. The first Republican presidential debate will be held Aug. 6 in Cleveland. Only 10 contenders get to participate. And Fox News and Facebook will play host.

The debate will take place at Quicken Loans Arena, the site of the 2016 GOP convention, from 8 to 10 pm CT. Three Fox anchors will serve as moderators: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace.

Fox announced that it will invite contenders who placed in the top 10 in an average of five national polls in the days leading up to the debate.

The emphasis on national polls, rather than polling in Iowa or New Hampshire or another early voting state, could be a boon to both the more centrist, establishment figures in the race and to some of the more ideologically extreme contenders.

National Republican officials have struggled to articulate criteria for inclusion in the debate. More than a dozen contenders are already in the race, officially or otherwise, and by August the number could grow to 20 or even more. Putting so many candidates on stage could be unwieldy and leave little time to flesh out differences. The party has deferred, at least publicly, to Fox News in deciding who gets a coveted invitation.

“We support and respect the decision Fox has made which will match the greatest number of candidates we have ever had on a debate stage,” national GOP chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

In announcing the debate, Fox News’ Executive Vice President of News Editorial Michael Clemente announced a number of entry criteria.

The debate is only open to announced candidates for president who meet all constitutional requirements. The latter provision would implicitly confer a Fox stamp of approval on Canada-born Sen. Ted Cruz, if he makes the cut.

So the maximum is 10 with a minimum of five percent in national primary polls. At the moment, according to the polling averages, here is the list of who that would include:

RealClearPolitics is one of the outfits that tracks rolling averages. At the moment, the top 10 would be: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. The only woman in the GOP field, Carly Fiorina, wouldn’t make the cut. But lots can change in the next two and a half months.

Donald Trump would not make the cut, likely much to the preference of the RNC despite the increased interest he would likely bring to the broadcast. Realistically, those ten are probably the group from which the nominee will emerge. However, the polls could fluctuate in the next two months and a few in the bottom could fall out of the criteria if someone like Carly Fiorina gains some traction.


  1. (1) “could be a boon to both the more centrist…and to some of the more ideologically extreme contenders.”

    QUESTION–Who else is there?

    (2) “The party has deferred, at least publicly, to Fox News”

    QUESTION–So “the media” get to choose who can be a candidate?

    (3) “candidates for president who meet all constitutional requirements.”

    QUESTION–So “the media” get to decide what is Constitutional?

    (4) “five percent in national primary polls.”

    QUESTION–I’ve heard of “national polls” and “primary polls,” but what is a “national primary poll”?

    (5) “Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco
    Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Chris Christie,
    Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.”

    QUESTION–If Huckabee becomes one of those invited, shouldn’t he OR Fox recuse themselves?

  2. I see nothing wrong with the current choices by Fox for GOP candidates to take place in the debate. Actually, it would make it better to leave out a few more people! I don’t know.. say, how about Walker, Huckabee, Santorum and Perry? Take out Rubio too, while you’re at it.

    • I just don’t think it’s appropriate for the media to decide who may speak. Priebus is shirking responsibility. Again.

      I think it will come down to JEB and Rand. But it’s probably not a bad idea to put them through the trial-by-fire. If Hillary doesn’t get some competition soon, she’s going to be really flatfooted going against a GOP debater who has had a chance to hone his (yes, his) skills.

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