CNBC on Wednesday announced that-contrary to the public fears of the GOP’s perpetual also-rans-the network will indeed hold an undercard debate before next month’s main event in Colorado.
All candidates with a 3-percent average in the polls will make the main stage, with any tally above 2.5 percent being rounded up.
The rest of the field will have the chance to participate in a 6 p.m. debate as long as they have registered at least 1 percent in a national poll.
It’s not clear how many candidates would clear the 3% mark, but it is expected to put Paul, Christie and Mike Huckabee at risk of being relegated to the undercard.
In those faceoffs, network sponsors CNN and Fox divided candidates between two debates on the same day.
“I doubt there will be an undercard”, he said on CNN’s “At This Hour” at the time. All are now averaging 6 percent or above. In fact, didn’t Chuck Todd say just a few days ago that NBC felt no pressure to feature 10 or 11 candidates like the first two debates did?
Politico anonymously cited comments by a senior adviser to a Republican presidential candidate who reportedly said, “Insiders in Washington want to limit the debates because they want their two favorites, Bush and Rubio, to take on Donald Trump“. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) would not qualify, as he has not scored 1 percent in any of the four initial polls. If different polling standards are used, such as the standings in Iowa or New Hampshire, then Chris Christie and John Kasich could also being in danger of being kept off the stage.
In a statement, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the committee applauded “CNBC’s efforts to ensure that all of our top candidates will have an opportunity to share their views with the American people”. That debate was watched by 3.3 million viewers. We haven’t seen a similar breakout from the second undercard debate, and we’re not likely to, but nonetheless this kind of media attention was essential to candidates who are already struggling in the polls.
CNBC’s John Harwood, Becky Quick, and Carl Quintanilla are set to host, with Rick Santelli, Jim Cramer, and Sharon Epperson on board as “questioners”. Other network personalities will be on hand to question candidates during the debate, which is primarily focused on the economy.