There will be two GOP candidate forums (sponsored by Fox News) on August 6 in Cleveland, OH. The main event will feature candidates polling in first-through-tenth place over a series of five newly-released national surveys. Earlier in the day, however, the network will also host a debate for candidates…not doing as well. Previously, Fox said only candidates polling one percent or higher would merit an invitation.
Now, however, Politico reports the network has lowered the bar:
Fox News is opening its 5 p.m. debate to all the announced Republican candidates who fail to make the cut for the Aug. 6 prime-time event, removing a requirement that participants reach at least 1 percent in polling.
The change amounts to an insurance policy for candidates who were in danger of being disqualified from the vital first debate based on low polls – Carly Fiorina, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
The announcement by Michael Clemente, Fox News Executive Vice President, News, means that all 16 announced candidates will qualify for Cleveland — either the 5 p.m. undercard, or the 9 p.m. main event.
Probably for the best, honestly. Changing the rules (a) appeases the partisans of these low-polling candidates and (b) gives everyone a chance to either sink or swim in the national spotlight. It’s more fair and competitive. What’s not to like?
Then again, if there are no requirements anymore for who qualifies, does that mean anyone can participate? Ah, not quite:
“Due to the overwhelming interest in the FOX News Facebook Debate Event Night on August 6th and in a concerted effort to include and accommodate the now 16 Republican candidate field — the largest in modern political history — FOX News is expanding participation in the 5 PM/ET debate to all declared candidates whose names are consistently being offered to respondents in major national polls, as recognized by Fox News,” said Clemente in a statement.
In other words, if you’re not famous enough to appear in a national poll, you’re not getting in. Thank goodness.