Republican presidential candidates Rand PaulRand PaulSenate healthcare bill appears headed for failure Talk of Trump pardons reverberates on Sunday shows Paul says president likely has authority to pardon himself MORE and Carly Fiorina have been demoted to Thursday’s undercard debate, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich maintains a spot on this week’s main stage. 

That will shrink the prime-time debate from nine to seven candidates about two weeks ahead of when the first votes are cast. On the main debate stage will be: GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpScarborough, Brzezinski named rabbit after Trump Trump Jr. adds to legal team ahead of Senate meeting Conway: Trump doesn't think he's lying on voter fraud, wiretap claims MORE, Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzGOP wrestles with soaring deductibles in healthcare bill Cruz: Tax reform chances ‘drop significantly’ if healthcare fails Ex-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis MORE (R-Texas), Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioMexican politicians have a new piñata: Donald Trump Bush ethics lawyer: Congress must tell Trump not to fire Mueller The private alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program  MORE (R-Fla.), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. 

The lineup for Thursday’s GOP debate in North Charleston, S.C., was unveiled on “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” The network didn’t inform candidates ahead of time about which polls would be used. 

Paul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer ahead of the announcement that he got a heads up from the network that he’d be demoted and said he wouldn’t participate in the undercard debate.

“I won’t participate in anything that’s not first tier,” he said. “I think an artificial designation being in the second tier.”

“It’s really a mistake,” the Kentucky senator said, adding that he’ll continue to campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. “The thing is that the Republican Party needs a voice like mine.” 

Fiorina, whose first debate in the undercard event boosted her polls enough to propel her into subsequent primetime debates, failed for the first time to place high enough to remain on the main stage. 

Fox Business Network had given candidates a chance to place in the top six of polls nationally or the top five either in Iowa or New Hampshire. 

Without Paul, the undercard debate would consist of Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylavnia Sen. Rick Santorum for the 6 p.m. debate. 

Kasich’s position in the debate had been threatened over the weekend, but a New Hampshire poll released on Monday that showed him tied for second place saved Kasich from the undercard debate. 

The network released debate guidelines last month stipulating that candidates must make the top six in an average of five recent national polls, or top five in an average of recent polls from Iowa or New Hampshire. 

Relegation to the undercard debate is seen as a major blow to a campaign, and they garner significantly less viewership than the prime-time ones. While more than 13 million people watched the main Fox Business Network debate in November, only 4.7 million viewers tuned in for the undercard.

There had been a lull in the number of polls released in recent weeks, but a flurry of polls have come out in since the weekend, including two on Monday: a Quinnipiac University poll in Iowa and a Monmouth University poll in New Hampshire