Fox Business Network Announces Debate Lineup, With Paul And Fiorina Sent To Kid’s Table

Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina are the biggest losers in the lineup for the latest Republican debate on Thursday.

Fox Debate Lineup

Late yesterday, Fox Business Network announced the line up for Thursday’s Republican Debate and, as expected, the main stage will be somewhat smaller than it has been in the past:

Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina have been booted to the undercard in Thursday night’s Republican primary debate as the number of main-stage candidates was cut to seven by stricter polling criteria.

Paul, who is struggling to gain traction in the presidential race, immediately cried foul, and vowed to not participate in the event.

Fox Business Network, which will televise the sixth GOP presidential debate this week, announced the debate fields on Monday evening, after weeks of speculation that Paul would for the first time not make the cut for the primetime event. The seven candidates who will appear on the main stage in North Charleston, S.C., are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich. Kasich qualified as a result of his strength in New Hampshire.

Paul and Fiorina are set to join Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum in the undercard — if Paul decides to participate. The Kentucky senator told CNN Monday evening, just before the official announcement, that Fox Business had made “a mistake,” and he wouldn’t attend.

“We will not participate in anything that’s not first-tier,” Paul said. His campaign confirmed to POLITICO that he will sit out Thursday’s debate.

His campaign elaborated in a statement that multiple polls showed him well within the network’s criteria for qualifying, and contended that the margins of error in polls make them a poor tool for determining who makes the main stage.

“To exclude candidates on faulty analysis is to disenfranchise the voter,” the statement said. “Creating ‘tiers’ based on electoral results of real votes might make sense but creating ‘tiers’ on bad science is irresponsible.”

Regardless of whether he takes part in the undercard debate, the downgrade could be a crippling blow for Paul — who has insisted that he would remain in the race through the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, even though he also faces a reelection campaign this year for his Senate seat.

In an interview with POLITICO last week, Paul called for organizers to abolish the earlier undercard debate. “I’m not sure what the purpose is anymore, if there ever was one,” Paul said.

The Paul camp has fought hard to keep its candidate on the main stage, where he has appeared for the prior five debates. Earlier Monday, the campaign released a memo stating that “multiple national polls” have the Kentucky senator “in 5th or 6th place” — even though he’s in seventh place in the average nationally and in both early states. “By any reasonable criteria Senator Paul has a top-tier campaign and has qualified for the stage,” the memo said.

But it was clear that Paul didn’t meet the criteria Fox Business had outlined prior to Monday’s qualification deadline. The network said it would average the five most recent polls nationally, and in both Iowa and New Hampshire. The top six candidates nationally would qualify – and if any other candidate appeared in the top five in either early state, they would be added.

Paul was in seventh place nationally and in both early states, according to POLITICO’s calculations.

When Fox Business Network announced its debate criteria just before Christmas, it was apparent that Paul, among others, was at the very least on the bubble for being pushed into the undercard debate due to the fact that he had been falling significantly in the polls over the past several months notwithstanding the fact that he had made the main stage in every debate since the first one back in August. Indeed, given the fact that Paul is, as noted, in seventh place both nationally and in Iowa and New Hampshire in the poll averages as measured by both RealClearPolitics and the broader measurement used by Pollster, it has almost seemed as though Republican voters have like Paul less the more they’ve gotten to know him. In any case, Paul made it clear shortly after the criteria were announced that he would not participate in an undercard debate if that were his only option, so I suppose that the campaign’s announcement of the same last night isn’t a surprise since he would risk being called a hypocrite for going back on his word. At the same time, though, to the extent that Paul still wants to maintain the image of a campaign that still actually exists it seems foolish to turn down an hour to an hour an a half of free media time. Perhaps it wouldn’t have much of an impact on the race as a whole, but it certainly doesn’t seems like it would hurt all that much, especially given the fact that he would be going up against such relative lightweights as Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Carly Fiorina.

As for the main stage debate itself, the biggest drama Thursday night is likely to be right in the center of the stage, with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, who have generally been among the top three nationally and in the early primary states for the better part of a month now. That would seem to give plenty of opportunities for a repetition of the clashes that we’ve seen over that time between Cruz and Rubio over issues such as immigration over the past month, as well as an opportunity to see if Trump continues his recent lines of attack against Cruz, who has become his closest competitor in Iowa and, potentially, the candidate who could end up surpassing him in the race if he manages to pull off a win in the caucuses. Additionally, this debate and the one that follows two weeks from now are likely the final opportunity for candidates such as Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie to make an impression on voters that could catapult them beyond February. All three of these candidates have risen steadily in New Hampshire over the past two months or so, but it seems clear that only one of them is likely to get their ticket stamped coming out of the Granite State and be given the chance to try to capitalize on their performance there in other parts of the country. These two upcoming debates will go a long way toward helping to decide how that plays out.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Pete S says:

    “We will not participate in anything that’s not first-tier,” Paul said.

    So I assume he has not watched tapes of the debates he has appeared in so far?

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @Pete S: What do you mean? Those debates had the Trump name all over them, they must have been yooogley classy.

  3. Scott says:

    There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with a winnowing process before any votes are taken. I can hear questions of manipulation by party leadership and networks being raised by those in the lower ranks.

    I’m not sure if there is an answer but something about this process as it is unfolding is making me queasy.

  4. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    In an interview with POLITICO last week, Paul called for organizers to abolish the earlier undercard debate. “I’m not sure what the purpose is anymore, if there ever was one,” Paul said.

    Well, I will agree that I can’t see what the purpose of anymore undercard debates is.

  5. Mikey says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Well, I will agree that I can’t see what the purpose of anymore undercard debates is.

    Yeah, if a candidate isn’t polling high enough for the “big stage” six or seven months in, what’s the point?

    Also, has any candidate ever moved “up” to the main debate?

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: Fiorina. But she couldn’t hold on.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    Looking at that dias…with or without Paul and Fiorina…all I see are hucksters and grifters.
    Republicanism is the direct result of not being able to think critically. When a yyyuuuuge portion of the a Republican electorate is willing to accept complete bullshit…eg I’m going to build a yyyyuuuuuge wall and make Mexico pay for it, or tax cuts pay for themselves, or Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs…they leave themselves open to con men gaining power over them.
    It’s no coincidence that Trump speaks at a 4th grade level, and the base is enthralled with him.
    It’s the Palinization of the GOP; a blissful embrace of ignorance.

  8. Pete S says:

    @Scott: There are literally millions of Republicans who meet what seem to be the basic qualifications to be the party’s presidential nominee (party membership and a pulse) so the winnowing has been ruthless to get to this point. After careful consideration I do not believe that further winnowing is going to knock out a good president on the Republican side, it will only cut down the noise on the debate stage and in TV ads.

    Note: I am not saying that no Republican could be a good president, I am just saying that whoever that person is they are not part of the process happening now.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    Ann Coulter says Trump/Romney is the ideal team for 2016.
    Perfect….two entitled white guys who wouldn’t be where they are without their daddies money.

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    The Republican field will be reduced by 3 ,4 or 5 before or shortly after Iowa. Jeb Bush’s family will encourage him to drop out to avoid further embarrassment to the family. Marco Rubio will be out looking for a job with a “think tank” or hedge fund. Neither one of them ever came across as the sharpest knives in the kitchen. Rand Paul will leave to concentrate on his Senate race Carson will drop out because he has no campaign staff left. Fiorina will drop out because she realizes her millions could be better spent at a Caribbean resort. because nobody liked her before and nothing has changed.

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    The Republican field will be reduced by 3 ,4 or 5 before or shortly after Iowa. Jeb Bush’s family will encourage him to drop out to avoid further embarrassment to the family. Marco Rubio will be out looking for a job with a “think tank” or hedge fund. Neither one of them ever came across as the sharpest knives in the kitchen. Rand Paul will leave to concentrate on his Senate race Carson will drop out because he has no campaign staff left. Fiorina will drop out because she realizes her millions could be better spent at a Caribbean resort. because nobody liked her before and nothing has changed.

  12. Scott says:

    @Pete S: I agree to a certain extent; however,

    1) The process is forcing candidates to run ever earlier which I don’t see as a plus

    2) Polling, especially nationwide polls, may be based on people barely paying attention

    3) Because they take into account the two earliest states, Iowa and NH, which are, in reality, small, demographically homogeneous states, the winnowing has an inherent bias toward those populations

    4) Iowa, in particular, has an issue because polling may not reflect actual caucus goers

    5) I just have a problem with the debate host setting the terms of debate. Goes back to trust.

    Bottom line: I just think it is too soon.

  13. James Pearce says:

    If it’s true that Republican voters like Paul less the more they get to know him, then attending the debate won’t help him. And skipping it won’t hurt his re-election campaign.

    It might actually help with the locals in Kentucky, at least those who would prefer their Senator continue to represent their interests in Congress than his own interests as aspiring political dynast.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    There are two root causes for this. One is campaign finance. Seemingly anyone with a few multi-millionaire friends or associates, including themselves, can come up with enough money to run. Then they can stay in, still tapping their rich funders and raising a lot of money on line. The old “invisible primary” system of donors and bundlers picking the candidates was bad, but at least on the Republican side it worked better than this reality TV system they’ve evolved. But as long as the Supremes think money = speech and free speech absolutism trumps all else, I see no way out. Well, a 95% top marginal income tax rate would help, but that’s a non-starter.

    The other root cause is the right wing fever swamp of FOX and radio talkers and web sites. And I don’t see what we can do about that either.

    As I read it, the Founders didn’t fear the mob spontaneously rising up, they feared a faction of the elite firing up the mob for their own gain. Seems to be where we’ve arrived.

  15. Tillman says:

    “We get larger crowds than Bill Clinton,” Justice Never Sleeps exclaims, failing to note Bill Clinton is a surrogate and not running for the office.

    I’m sure the postmortem will identify any number of “plausible” reasons for Paul’s campaign to have failed to capture the nomination — a lack of ideological rigor, or charisma, a middling position anti-establishment enough to claim the cred but not enough to sell better than other contenders — but it’s going to come back to that absolutely idiotic answer to an idiotic question. Jeb compared himself to a store-brand battery, and that was the better of the two!

  16. C. Clavin says:

    Carson on Muslims invited to the SOTU by Obama:

    “Let’s go ahead and investigate the thing,” he said. “Let’s not be giving them access to the ability to further carry on what they call a civilization jihad, and to change us from a Judeo-Christian foundation to a Muslim foundation. We have got to be smarter than that.”

  17. Pete S says:

    @Scott: I normally wouldn’t disagree with your points at all, especially in the context of a race between people with different positions and different levels of competence for the job they are chasing. I just think it would concern me more if there was any reason to believe that a good president was being winnowed out at this point. I don’t necessarily believe that having a large field of lousy candidates is better than having a small field of them. It may even be worse, since the candidates who have had genuine differences have seemed to be pushed to abandon them to fit with the rest of the field as the race carries on (Rubio on immigration, Trump on tax policy, etc).

  18. Mikey says:

    @Pete S:

    It may even be worse, since the candidates who have had genuine differences have seemed to be pushed to abandon them to fit with the rest of the field as the race carries on

    Kind of a Gresham’s Law for politics. The bad candidates/positions drive out the good.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Mikey: The major difference between business in a large corporation and politics. In business, you’re in a battle for the top position. You may not make CEO, but you often will end up as VP. In politics, when you fail, what happens? Talk shows at best.

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Or Iraq.

  21. Bill Lefrak says:

    The remaining lineup is quite the testament to the disastrous demographics of the GOP’s erstwhile primary base and the deleterious effects of open primaries and two ridiculous states being the tips of the spear.

    There’s a two-term governor of the nation’s 4th most populous state, and far and away the most important Electoral College swing state, who left office there with one of the highest local approval ratings in history. There’s a two-term governor of another critical swing state with a large population and major industries. Another two-term governor with sky high approval ratings in a densely populated state with major industries. A U.S. Senator from the most important political swing state, too, who’s general election bona fides are as plain as day.

    Yet the person apparently leading this contest, by a material margin, too, is a whitebread inherited-wealth socialite, with zero experience as a public official, who’s national fame was sparked by a catfight between his wife and his then-mistress at a ski vacaycay in Aspen, and who somehow has managed on four separate occasions to run high margin operating companies into bankruptcy.

    Good grief.

    The prospects are bleak.

  22. C. Clavin says:

    @Bill Lefrak:

    who’s general election bona fides are as plain as day

    There is not a single person on that dias qualified to be President.
    And judging by your comments you’re not qualified to opine.

  23. Moosebreath says:

    @Bill Lefrak:

    “Another two-term governor with sky high approval ratings in a densely populated state with major industries.”

    Assuming by process of elimination that this means Christie, then no he does not have sky high approval ratings. To the contrary, his approval ratings have slipped far into negative territory.

    From December 2015: “The governor’s job approval has slipped to its lowest point, and his disapproval rate has reached a new high, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll.

    Just 33 percent of registered New Jersey voters now approve of his performance, a drop of six points since October. More, 62 percent disapprove, up six points.”

  24. the Q says:

    Having returned from my new years break with one question: has Mike Reynolds left the building?

    I notice some commenters flamed him last month pretty good….just wondering if that sent him away.

    Too bad if it did.

  25. C. Clavin says:

    @Moosebreath:
    Not to mention that his Republican tax cut agenda has done great harm to New Jersey’s economy. The state has had its credit rating cut a bunch of times…and has the second lowest credit rating of all the states. It’s not all Christie’s fault…but he hasn’t helped at all.
    “It isn’t all my fault” isn’t a great campaign slogan.

  26. C. Clavin says:

    So, I think this is important; oil dropped below $30 a bbl today.
    Why? There a lot of reasons…but Obama is directly responsible for a couple of them. And the knuckle-heads on the Republican dias would undo them…so everyone should think long and hard before signing onto the GOP bluster-fwck.
    One is a stable Iraq exporting oil again…sure…stable is a relative term…but Iraq is far more stable than it has been since Cheney convinced Bush 43 that it was a good idea to attack and occupy that country.
    Iran is exporting oil again, or will be soon.
    Libya too.
    Of course there are other factors. But there is not one person in the Republican clown car that wants to keep peace.
    If you like sub-$2.00 gas (I paid $1.95 today…it was $1.56 when Bush 43 first took office) then DO NOT vote Republican.

  27. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @the Q: I think he was noting that he would be gone on an extended world tour promoting some new book or another. But for what it’s worth, the “bomb Rabaaq til it glows–that’ll show ISIS” version may not be missed as much as you imagine unless we have a massive troll die off.

  28. grumpy realist says:

    @C. Clavin: Well, it’s sort of the same thing you find in the WSJ. On one page you’ll find a company talking about the cost of borrowing money and how if rates rise it’s going to present a horrible problem and it’s all Obama’s fault that rates are rising. On the following page you’ll find someone whining about how all these low rates are wrecking the cash flow for retirees (and it’s all Obama’s fault.)

    Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. No matter what happens, it’s Obama’s fault.

  29. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @C. Clavin: I disagree with you on Romney. Sure, his daddy’s money gave him his start, but those grifts he ran with vulnerable companies where he bought up the company stock and then used the assets of the companies to leverage buyouts of his shares at high markups was original (and something that I can’t imagine his dad having the stomach to do).

  30. the Q says:

    Thanks Just…for the Reynolds update….ok, so i give him a pass for that crazy stance…like his comments and the other regulars here.