Organizers of Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in North Charleston have named the seven candidates who will take part in the main event, narrowing the field down from previous debates.
The Fox Business News debate Thursday will feature current poll frontrunners real estate mogul Donald Trump and Texas US Sen. Ted Cruz, along with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida US Sen. Marco Rubio.
The 9 p.m. debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center is the first GOP debate to be held in South Carolina during the 2016 campaign cycle and the fifth overall. It will be moderated by FBN personalities Neil Cavuto and Maria Batiromo. The GOP candidates will be back to South Carolina next month for a Feb. 13 debate in Greenville.
To qualify for the debate, candidates had to either place in the top six average in recent national polls or in the top five averge for polling in Iowa or New Hampshire. Candidates who did not meet the criteria will participate in an earlier event, that pundits have frequently billed as the “undercard” debate.
Those candidates whose poll averages were not strong enough were former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Kentucky US Sen. Rand Paul and former Pennsylvania US Sen. Rick Santorum.
However, Paul has refused to participate in the undercard debate, saying he “will not let the media decide the tiers of this race.” Paul claimed some polls have shown him in the top five nationally, or at least within the margin of error from several candidates who did make the final cut. It was the first time the Kentucky senator did not qualify for the primary debate.
The Democratic candidates will be in Charleston this weekend for their own debate on Sunday night. The 9 p.m. event at the Gaillard Center is sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. It will be televised by NBC and streamed online by YouTube.