The discussion over what to do with such a large Republican field has been debated for months. How can up to 16 possible candidates fit on a debate stage in any reasonable form? All eyes were on Fox News, which had the benefit, or burden, of going first on the debate schedule, and it appears they have come up with a solution to limit the number of candidates participating.


Report from the Dallas Morning News:

It’s official. The first Republican presidential debate will be held Aug. 6 in Cleveland. Only 10 contenders get to participate. And Fox News and Facebook will play host.

The debate will take place at Quicken Loans Arena, the site of the 2016 GOP convention, from 8 to 10 pm CT. Three Fox anchors will serve as moderators: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace.

Fox announced that it will invite contenders who placed in the top 10 in an average of five national polls in the days leading up to the debate.

The emphasis on national polls, rather than polling in Iowa or New Hampshire or another early voting state, could be a boon to both the more centrist, establishment figures in the race and to some of the more ideologically extreme contenders.

National Republican officials have struggled to articulate criteria for inclusion in the debate. More than a dozen contenders are already in the race, officially or otherwise, and by August the number could grow to 20 or even more. Putting so many candidates on stage could be unwieldy and leave little time to flesh out differences. The party has deferred, at least publicly, to Fox News in deciding who gets a coveted invitation.

“We support and respect the decision Fox has made which will match the greatest number of candidates we have ever had on a debate stage,” national GOP chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

The limit will be ten, unless the tenth spot is a tie, in which case there could be eleven candidates on stage in Cleveland come August 6. There is already much grumbling about this set of criteria since it will inevitably leave out some quality candidates.

Also, some more news on this front from CNN, which holds the second debate listing on the schedule coming up on September 16. Also from the Dallas Morning News:

CNN just announced details for the second GOP primary debate on Sept. 16 at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif. This one takes a different approach to making a huge field of candidates more manageable, by splitting the group and holding two debates.

Think Thanksgiving dinner, with a grownups’ table and a kids’ table.

The main debate will include the 10 with the top poll numbers. A secondary debate will include others who drew at least 1 percentage point but couldn’t crack the top 10. And — a wrinkle — if no more than 14 people fall into either category, CNN reserves the right to hold the main debate to 8 people.

The CNN method may prove interesting if polls still support such a wide field come September. There could literally be two debates on September 16, one of the “top tier,” and one of the lower polling “second tier” candidates.

Follow the entire debate schedule here: 2016 GOP Primary Debate Schedule