No more GOP debate undercards?
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A top Republican National Committee (RNC) official is hinting that there will be no more undercard GOP presidential debates as the party moves closer to the first nominating contests.

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“I doubt there will be an undercard,” Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communications director and chief strategist, said Thursday on CNN’s “At This Hour” about next month’s debate on CNBC, noting that it initially made sense to schedule a debate featuring second-tier candidates to showcase the "historic" large field.

“We've got to look and see where we are, it's six weeks from now," he added.

"As we head into November, right before the Iowa caucuses, is that still the case? Are there still that many number of candidates that justify a second debate on debate night?”

Spicer said that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is still discussing the final debate arrangements with the network and that CNBC has not yet settled on criteria. But he questioned whether an undercard debate would be necessary, after just four candidates took part in Wednesday's "happy hour" event.

“There’s a point in which ... that undercard turns into an interview,” he said.

“We need to see where the race stands in the next couple of weeks, and make a decision what’s best for the party, what’s best for the candidates.”

CNN’s early debate had been set to include five candidates: former Gov. George Pataki (N.Y.), Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump critics push new direction for GOP Graham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (S.C.), Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and former Gov. Rick Perry (Texas). But Perry dropped out last Friday, leaving the event with just four candidates, none of whom had polled higher than 3 percent in national polling since May.

CNN had already amended the criteria, allowing Carly Fiorina to jump into the top debate after a protest that the network's reliance on older poll numbers may have unfairly squeezed her out. That brought the main-stage field to 11 candidates.

Spicer praised all of the candidates on the main state, but did admit that it looked "crowded."

"I think it looked like a pretty crowded stage last night, but we had plenty of time for everyone to get their position across, so that was good," Spicer said.

"But I think ... there was a lack of elbow room at the table.”