Thursday's Prime-Time GOP Presidential Debate Lineup is Set

Republican presidential candidates line up on stage during a debate in 2011 in California. Republican presidential candidates line up on stage during a debate in 2011 in California. Jae C. Hong/AP file photo

On Tuesday evening, Fox News announced which GOP presidential candidates will participate in the first official prime-time debate of this presidential cycle on Thursday.

Here's who made the cut:

1. Mogul Donald Trump

2. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

3. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

4. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

5. Dr. Ben Carson

6. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas)

7. Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida)

8. Sen. Rand Paul (Kentucky)

9. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

10. Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Before the main event on Thursday at 9 p.m. EST, Fox will host a second debate for candidates who polled above 1 percent but who did not make it into the top 10. That debate will take place at 5 p.m. EST on Thursday.

The (invited) junior-varsity squad:

1. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry

2. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania)

3. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

4. Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina

5. Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)

6. Former New York Gov. George Pataki

7. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore

Republican campaigns—especially those near the bubble—were fretting about making it into the top tier of candidates. Some demanded that Fox reveal which polls it was using to determine the debate lineup, but Fox initially refused to disclose which polls they were looking at. On Tuesday, the network revealed that polls conducted by Bloomberg, CBS News, Fox News, Monmouth University, and Quinnipiac University determined the average score of each contestant.

Fox said the polls "must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques." One poll that fits that criteria, Marist College, suspended its primary polling to avoid becoming involved in the debate controversy.

So, who was most affected by the final lineup? Speculation was that either Christie, Kasich, or Perry would get the boot. In the end, it was Perry's unlucky night. His supporters will likely be frustrated to see Perry relegated to the "kiddie table," as some have been calling the second-tier debate, in favor of Trump.

Last month, Perry called Trump a "cancer on conservatism"—an insult that Trump rebutted with an Instagram post showing him and Perry smiling in Trump's office. ".@GovernorPerry in my office last cycle playing nice and begging for my support and money. Hypocrite!" the caption read.

Still, being No. 1 on the B team may not be the worst slot for Perry. It means that, unlike the top-tier candidates, he won't have to yell over Trump to be heard. And with only seven candidates instead of 10, he'll likely have more time to stake out his positions.

If all else fails, Perry can try symbolically destroying something on set. Preferably with a chainsaw.

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