Talk about your must-see TV. Fox News has just confirmed the field of candidates who will be onstage for the first televised debate of the 2016 presidential race. Businessman and former reality TV star Donald Trump has been leading the Republican White House hopefuls by double digits in recent national polls, so he’s in with a center podium. His fodder for the GOP get-together in two days will be ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Christie and Kasich — the latter having home-field advantage for the event at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland — barely made the cut, polling at 3.4% and 3,2%, respectively. Fox News used data from the five most recent national polls as of 5 PM ET today that meet the organizations “methodological standards.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose flameout in a 2011 GOP debate led to his withdrawal from the presidential race, was squeezed out at the last minute.
The fuse will be lit Thursday at 9 PM ET, when the candidates will field questions from Fox News moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. Facebook is co-hosting the event, which is scheduled for two hours — unless Trump takes that long just giving out his opponents’ personal info.
Today’s announcement from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland leaves the so-called second-tier candidates on the outside looking in – and possibly looking for another way to pass the next 15 months. Fox News will host a debate at 5 PM ET Thursday for the other declared hopefuls who didn’t get a seat at the grownups table. Those not ready for primetime players are Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former New York Gov. George Pataki and ex-Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
Looking ahead, CNN will host Debate 2: The Sequel on September 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. The primary season starts February 1 with the Iowa caucuses, followed the New Hampshire primary on February 9.