Right now, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal and George Pataki are out of the loop.
Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have nothing to worry about.
The issue is which 10 of the 16 announced Republican candidates will be invited to the first GOP presidential debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland.
Who gets invited will be determined by averaging poll results. The top 10 candidates are in. Fox News, the sponsor of the forum, determined that holding a debate with all 16 would be crazy. So it decided to cap the debate field at 10.
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The Republican National Committee is sponsoring nine debates through March 1. But the first one is a big, big deal because, well, it’s first, and it’ll draw loads of media attention. Also, because the field is so crowded, not making the initial cut could doom a candidacy.
A difference of just one point could determine who’s in for debate one— and who’s not.
If you think this is a nutty way to pick a potential future president of the United States, you might be right. But as someone who once moderated a debate with, like, 13 candidates for Kansas City mayor back in 2007, the decision make some sense. You just can’t cover much ground with a dozen eager politicians who love to talk all vying for microphone time.
So, look for lower-tier contenders to try to generate some media attention in the next few weeks to pump up their poll numbers. Their appearance in debate one is on the line.