The next Republican presidential debate may feature a much smaller lineup when candidates take the stage on Jan. 14 in North Charleston, SC.
According to Fox Business Network, which will air two debates that night, to qualify for the prime-time show one must be polling within the top six in an average of the latest national polls, or in the top five in either Iowa or New Hampshire.
The under-card debate will air first and consist of all other candidates polling at least one percent in one of the five latest national surveys of GOP voters.
As of the most recent polls published Wednesday, the main debate would consist of seven candidates (Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Christie, Bush, and Kasich), and the secondary lineup would have four participants (Paul, Fiorina, Huckabee, Santorum).
Despite the opportunity for more publicity, Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday he will not participate in a secondary debate if he is shut out from the headliner.
“We’ve got a first-tier campaign,” Paul said on Fox News Radio. “I’ve got 800 precinct chairman in Iowa. I’ve got a 100 people on the ground working for me. I’ve raised $25 million . . . If you tell a campaign with three weeks to go that they’re in the second-tier, you destroy the campaign . . . we just can’t accept the designation of being artificially told that we don’t have a chance with three weeks to go.”
Sen. Paul is currently polling 2.5 percent nationally, 2.7 percent in Iowa, 3.5 percent in New Hampshire, and three percent in South Carolina.
Fox News will broadcast one more GOP debate before the Feb. 1 Iowa Caucus, scheduled for Jan. 28 in Des Moines.
[Fox Business] [Buzz Feed] [RealClearPolitics] [Washington Post]