Fox Business Network Announces Criteria For November 10th Republican Debate

While Republicans are currently looking forward to the third Republican debate scheduled for this evening, Fox Business Network has announced the criteria for the fourth debate, which will be held just two weeks from now in Wisconsin:

The fourth GOP primary debate, on Nov. 10, will feature an undercard debate, Fox Business Network announced Tuesday.

The news will be a welcome relief to candidates at the bottom of the polls who have been worried that the undercard debates would soon be gone. Before the criteria and format for the third GOP debate on Wednesday had been announced, some campaigns had lashed out at the Republican National Committee for what they said was lack of clarity over debate formats. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s campaignwrote a letter in September to RNC chairman Reince Priebus, suggesting that the RNC was trying to winnow the field prematurely by getting rid of the undercard gathering after the second GOP debate in September.

Candidates who score 2.5 percent or higher in an average of the four most recent national polls conducted through Nov. 4 will be invited to the main debate stage on Nov. 10, which will last two hours starting at 9 p.m. ET.

The main-stage debate will be moderated by Fox Business Managing Editor Neil Cavuto and Global Markets editor Maria Bartiromo, along with Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker.

To qualify for the undercard debate stage, candidates must score at least 1 percent in one of four most recent national polls conducted through Nov. 4, as recognized by Fox Business. The undercard debate will start at 6 p.m. and last 90 minutes. It will be hosted by Fox Business’ Sandra Smith and Trish Regan and Wall Street Journal Washington bureau chief Gerald Seib.

On Tuesday afternoon, top RNC officials gathered senior campaign aides for a meeting in Boulder, Colo., where Republicans are gathering for the third presidential debate. There, the RNC informed them that the Fox Business debate will have the same format as the CNBC debate,according to sources present at the meeting.

Campaign aides also collectively told the RNC that they wanted the opportunity to have opening and closing statements. The issue of allowing opening and closingsbecame a point of contention in the planning for the CNBC debate. After CNBC said that the debate wouldn’t include opening and closing statements, some candidates – including Donald Trump – threatened to pull out, causing the network to reverse course and include a closing statement. During the meeting in Boulder, according to one campaign source present, RNC officials said they would push for there to be openings and closings in their conversations with Fox Business.

Based on the most recent polling, the candidates that would be most in danger of losing their place on the main stage under these criteria would be Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is averaging exactly 2.5% in the four most recent polls, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is averaging just 2% in those polls. This, of course, was the situation earlier this month before CNBC announced its final invitations for their debate tonight, which is being conducted under slightly different criteria, and both Kasich and Christie ended up making it onto the main stage, so it’s possible that will happen in November as well. In no small part, though, that will depend on how they do tonight and how many national polls that Fox Business recognizes, which isn’t really specified, are conducted between now and then.

It’s once again unfortunate that there is going to be another undercard debate since these things are quickly becoming a waste of time, but I suppose that’s largely a function of the size of the Republican field and the fact that none of these candidates who are polling at 1% or less are dropping out notwithstanding the fact that they clearly have no realistic chance of being the Republican nominee.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. RGardner says:

    Fox who? I can immediately tell you CNBC is Ch 46 on Comcast, 72 on Charter. But FBN is somewhere over 100 in the channels I don’t bother paying money for. I realize most don’t watch CNBC like I do, but Fox Business News has almost zero audience (honesty, I like Strange Inheritances, but their business coverage sucks despite poaching MariaB) . The non-debate no one could see.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    I honestly believe that the RNC should turn over their Debate Franchise to Fox – this would have the beneficial effect of eliminating or significantly reducing regular predictable complaints that the media and/or moderators are biased.

  3. Rick DeMent says:

    Actually I like the Idea of handing over the moderator duties over to right wing talk show hosts. I would be happy to have Limbaugh and Hannity knock out Rubio, Bush and Kasich in one fell swoop.

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