Fox Business debate: Christie, Huckabee bumped from main stage

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LOS ANGELES — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have failed to qualify for the prime time Republican debate on November 10, making them the first top-tier candidates to be relegated to the undercard round, Fox Business Network announced Thursday.

Meanwhile, former New York Governor George Pataki and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham failed to qualify for the undercard debate, meaning they will not appear at all when Republicans gather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, next week.

The relegations could further winnow a Republican field that remains crowded with 15 candidates, the vast majority of whom are polling in the single digits. While Christie and Huckabee will still have an (albeit diminished) audience at 7 p.m., Pataki now finds himself barred from the platform he had come to rely on for media attention.

Fox Business, the sponsors of the fourth GOP debate, had stipulated last month that candidates would need to average at least 2.5% in the four most recent national polls in order to qualify for the prime time debate at 9 p.m. ET. Candidates needed to garner at least 1% in one of those polls to participate in the undercard debate at 7 p.m. ET.

Christie averaged just 2% in the most recent Fox News poll, bringing his average down to 2.25% and below Fox’s threshold. Seemingly aware of his insufficient numbers, the governor nevertheless struck a defiant tone in the run-up to Thursday’s announcement.

“I’m going to be debating somebody on Tuesday night, whether it’s the folks I’ve been debating with before or some other folks,” he told MSNBC on Thursday. “I don’t really care in one respect. Put a podium out here on the lawn in front of the foliage and let’s get a few people out here and I’ll debate them here.”

With Pataki and Graham off the stage, Christie and Huckabee will appear in a four-way debate alongside former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

The candidates at the November 10 debate will appear on stage in accordance with their standing in the polls. Donald Trump, the frontrunner, will appear at center stage, flanked by Dr. Ben Carson, the runner-up, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, in third.

From there, the ranking of the candidates is as follows: 4. Texas Senator Ted Cruz. 5. former Florida governor Jeb Bush. 6. Carly Fiorina. 7. Ohio Governor John Kasich. 8. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Mike Huckabee would be on the main stage and Lindsey Graham would be on the undercard.

More on the 2016 Presidential race here.