The polls have been tested and the participants identified for Thursday’s Fox Business Republican presidential debate. The sixth installment of this cycle’s Republican debates will be held at the Coliseum of North Charleston, South Carolina. The Palmetto State will hold the GOP’s third major nominating battle of the year on February 20. (Democrats hold their primary here a week later – be sure to bookmark this calendar for a handy 2016 primary election schedule resource.)
Unlike previous iterations, the debate on Thursday will feature single-digit participants. Fox Business decided to winnow the field by allowing only the top six candidates in national nomination polls and the top five in Iowa and/or New Hampshire polls. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush made the top six nationally, and John Kasich qualified by holding down the fifth spot in New Hampshire. Conspicuously absent from the headliner debate will be Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul, both of whom have been frequent participants on the main stage in the past.
“By any reasonable criteria Senator Paul has a top tier campaign,” his campaign said. “He will not let the media decide the tiers of this race and will instead take his message directly to the voters of New Hampshire and Iowa.”
I must say that I find it hard to agree with Paul. In my opinion, he is one of seven or eight GOP presidential hopefuls who should have dropped out already. This race is between Trump, Cruz and Rubio. Everyone else should clear out of the way. With that in mind, I was very disappointed that John Kasich qualified for the main debate. After his performance last time out, he has no business in the field either – especially not on the prime time stage.