As the last weekend before the first 2016 Republican debate draws near, candidates are making a last-minute push to improve their poll numbers and earn an invite into the primetime broadcast on August 6. As it stands, there are a half-dozen candidates on the verge vying for the bottom two slots in the list of the top ten candidates who will be on the stage in Cleveland.
Schedule for Thursday, August 6, 2015 on the Fox News Channel:
5pm ET – “Early Debate” – All candidates not in the top 10 (1 hour)
Hosted by Martha McCallum and Bill Hemmer
9pm ET – “Primetime Debate” – Top 10 Republican candidates debate (2 hours)
Hosted by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace
Report from Fox News:
Less than a week before a bushel of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls square off for the first time in two Fox News debates, billionaire businessman Donald Trump is holding firm to his primary lead — while his lower-polling rivals battle for visibility in hopes of making the cut for the prime-time stage.
Trump, seemingly reveling in his role as instigator and bipartisan punching bag, opened up a 7-point lead over the rest of the field in the most recent national poll. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also are polling consistently well.
Rather, the 11th-hour dash is among those in the middle and back of the pack, competing for the last of 10 slots in the prime-time event at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.
The Aug. 6 debate is hosted by Fox News, in conjunction with Facebook and the Ohio Republican Party.
The 9 p.m. ET stage will be open to the top 10 candidates in recent national polls. With 17 total candidates now in the race – former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore was the latest, announcing his bid Thursday – not everyone will make the cut.
Those who don’t can qualify for an earlier debate, at 5 p.m. Fox News has eased the criteria for that debate, and candidates will no longer have to reach at least 1 percent in the polls to make the stage, though there are other criteria.
But there is heavy competition for the main event, the first time leading candidates will face off after seemingly weekly campaign kick-offs.
Some campaigns are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising over the next several days, as they have been for the past couple weeks, to up their profile and earn a needed half a point or so to make the main event. In some cases, it literally comes down to tenths of a point that could separate the tenth and eleventh spot.
We won’t know until the middle of next week which candidates have officially made the cut.