There’s been a ton of speculation recently about which GOP candidates would make the cut for the first presidential debate to be hosted by Fox News on August 6. Some have even wondered whether certain candidates have tried to up their game and increase their chances by sharpening their rhetoric — witness Lindsey Graham’s repeated shots at Donald Trump, referring to him as a “wrecking ball” who is “selling fear and prejudice.”
Now, thanks to a big change just announced by Fox News, Graham and other low-ranking Republican contenders for the nomination will have a chance to make their case on TV in just about a week. Politico reports that the cable network will have an early debate that’s open to all contenders who haven’t polled high enough to qualify for the prime-time event.
“The change amounts to an insurance policy for candidates who were in danger of being disqualified from the vital first debate based on low polls — Carly Fiorina, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).” Politico notes that this change means all 16 announced candidates will get important TV time on the debate stage in Cleveland. Based on current polling, former Sen. Rick Santorum, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal would also be in the lower-tier of debaters appearing in the earlier time slot on Fox News.
Prior to the rules change, the network was reserving the stage for only those candidates tallying at least 1 percent in national preference polls.
According to a Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, the current top 10 for the Fox News prime-time debate would likely be:
Donald Trump, former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.), Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), Sen. Rubio (Fla.), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.), Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.), and Gov. John Kasich (Ohio).
The early debate is scheduled to last an hour, the later one closer to two hours.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth