Fox News has announced the line-up for the prime-time Republican presidential debate this Thursday, and here’s who qualified:
Real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
The roster of 10 candidates was determined based on an average of the five most recent national polls. Trump as expected made the cut, as did Bush and Walker, who have each posted strong numbers in recent surveys.
The drama, rather, was at the edge of the top 10. Christie and Kasich, who were hovering by that edge in recent polling, were able to qualify.
But former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, among others, will not be on the prime-time, 9 p.m. ET stage. The seven who did not make the top 10 will be invited to a separate 5 p.m. ET debate.
The debates, hosted by Fox News and Facebook in conjunction with the Ohio Republican Party, will be held at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
With the campaign lately being rocked by Trump’s rise in the polls above the jam-packed field, though, the big question is how the other nine candidates will hold their own on the prime-time stage — and whether Trump will remain the front-runner after his debate debut.
For political outsiders like Trump and Carson, Democratic strategist Doug Schoen said, “The question is are they ready, literally and metaphorically, for prime-time?”
The debate will test whether they can articulate a “cogent narrative of what they’ll do to promote and provoke change in our country,” Schoen said.
Analysts have warned that Trump, whose bomb-throwing persona has seemingly fueled his climb, stands to lose traction if he can’t command the stage.
Steve Deace, who hosts a conservative radio talk show in the Hawkeye State, said: “His entire campaign is based on him being a blunt instrument” and if he holds back, “that would be the death knell for him.”
Plenty of candidates are eager to seize the spotlight from him, no matter which debate stage they’re on. Ahead of the debates, Bush on Monday outlined his plan for improving border security and immigration enforcement.
Tough-talking Gov. Christie last week vowed to enforce marijuana laws if elected president, and tangled over the weekend with the teachers unions after saying on CNN they deserve a “punch in the face.”
Paul on Tuesday introduced an amendment to crack down on “sanctuary cities” by requiring local officials to notify the feds about the arrest of an illegal immigrant.
Trump, meanwhile, has continued to climb in the polls despite attracting the ire of fellow Republicans for recently questioning Sen. John McCain’s war record.
In the latest Fox News poll, Trump got the support of 26 percent of primary voters — the highest level of support for any candidate so far and up from 18 percent in mid-July.