Fox News limits size of first 2016 GOP debate
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Fox News will restrict the number of Republican presidential candidates participating in the first debate of the 2016 campaign, the network announced Wednesday.
It will require contenders to place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent major national polls taken before the event.
Fox News’s rules are expected to roughly halve the field of participants, which is among the most crowded in recent memory, and has caused headaches for the Republican National Committee (RNC) heading into the Aug. 6 debate in Cleveland.
No previous GOP debate has featured more than 10 candidates, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the story.
Fox News will use the five most recent major national polls as of Aug. 4. The news agency added it would only accept polls from nationally recognized firms using standards Fox had approved.
Fox also ruled that candidates must have met all constitutional requirements to serve as president, publicly announced their campaign and properly filed with the Federal Election Commission while paying all applicable state and federal fees.
The network noted it will provide additional coverage and airtime on the day of the debate to candidates who don't make the cut.
Fox will present the debate in conjunction with Facebook. Broadcasters Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace will moderate the event.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus hailed the channel's decision in a statement issued on Wednesday.
"We support and respect the decision Fox has made which will match the greatest number of candidates we have ever had on a debate stage," he said.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.) doubled the field, when they declared their candidacies earlier this month.
Govs. Scott Walker (Wis.), Chris Christie (N.J.) and Bobby Jindal (La.) have all expressed interest in running for the White House in 2016, as have former Govs. Rick Perry (Texas), George Pataki (N.Y.) and Jeb Bush (Fla.).
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), New York business mogul Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE and Rep. Pete King (N.Y.) are all rumored to also be considering launching campaigns for the GOP nomination.
Carson challenged the RNC last week to include candidates like him and Fiorina in the primary debates, despite their nontraditional entrances into conservative politics.
“Limiting participation of qualified candidates [based on polling numbers], I believe, does our party a tremendous disservice,” Carson said in a letter to RNC chairman Reince Priebus.
“While I respect the authority of the RNC to sponsor and regulate the debates, I firmly believe in the value and necessity of allowing the diverse voices of our party to be represented and demonstrated for the benefit of the American public’s awareness and information,” he added.
— Updated at 6:04 p.m.