The wait is finally over. Fox News has announced the 10 candidates who will participate in the first GOP debate on 6 August. The debate will air on Fox News at 9pm EST. Several Republican heavy hitters, such as Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum, did not make the cut for the debate based on five previously-unspecified national polls.
The 10 Republican candidates to participate in the first GOP national debate for the US 2016 presidential elections are: Donald Trump; Jeb Bush; Scott Walker; Mike Huckabee; Ben Carson; Ted Cruz; Marco Rubio; Rand Paul; Chris Christie; and John Kasich.
Meanwhile, the remaining seven candidates - Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore - will participate in a one hour forum that will air at 5pm EST before the 9pm debate.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich narrowly made the cut, The Hill reported. Kasich was one of the last contenders to enter the GOP field, which many believed would hurt his chances of winning the nomination.
The sixteenth Republican to enter the field issued a statement after the debate details were announced. "It's only fitting that this phase of the Republican presidential nomination begins in Ohio—the Mother of Presidents. After all, no Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio. As governor, I am glad to welcome my fellow debate participants to our great state and I look forward to discussing the issues facing our country with them on Thursday."
Meanwhile, Christie has had an uphill battle trying to rack up support among right-leaning voters after a series of scandals. The Hill noted that he was once considered a top contender for the Republican nomination.
The forum for the candidates left out of the debate was originally set to air at 1pm EST and last 90 minutes. However, Fox News cut it down to one hour and moved it closer to the debate broadcast. Several of the candidates who did not make the cut were within the margin of error for tenth place, The Hill reported.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who suffered a debilitating debate performance in 2011, ending his presidential campaign, remained positive about the forum despite missing the cut for the important first debate. "I look forward to being @FoxNews 5pm debate for what will be a serious exchange of ideas & positive solutions to get America back on track," he tweeted after Fox's announcement.
Fox News stated that it used polls conducted by Fox News, Bloomberg, CBS News, Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University to chose the top 10 candidates for the much anticipated debate. However, many criticised the network for using national polls to determine the standings of candidates.
In a New Hampshire forum, which was attended by 14 Republican candidates, Fiorinia took a jab at Fox News for its decision to use polls by thanking C-SPAN for "reminding the political class that we don't have a national primary and for managing to get all of the candidates here to the first in the nation primary state."
Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum also slammed Fox and the Republican National Committee for the "incredibly flawed" process of declaring the top 10 candidates. Santorum's spokesman Matt Beynon said, "While FOX is taking a lot of heat, the RNC deserves as much blame for sanctioning this process. They should not be picking winners and losers. That's the job of the voters, particularly those in Iowa and New Hampshire who have the role of voting first."
According to CNN, Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti said the network chose the five polls because they were non-partisan, nationally recognised organisations that used standard methodology.