Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate will include all major GOP candidates except for one: former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
The debate, hosted by ABC News and the Republican National Committee, will feature Donald Trump at center stage, flanked by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich filling out the rest of the stage.
Now that the field is down to eight candidates, ABC News announced last week it would offer just one stage, making Saturday’s event the first in this cycle to exclude an undercard stage.
— ABCNews PR (@ABCNewsPR) February 5, 2016
To be included in the debate, candidates needed to place among the top three in the Iowa caucuses Monday or place among the top six either nationally or in New Hampshire polls approved by the network. Fiorina did not make the cut after she placed seventh in Iowa, garnering less than 2 percent of the vote. She stands in eighth place nationally and seventh place in New Hampshire, according to averages compiled by Real Clear Politics.
This week, Fiorina called for ABC to change its rules and allow her to participate in Saturday’s debate, writing a letter to the RNC and drawing support from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as well as several Republican senators. Still, the network did not alter its criteria.
The debate is the last chance for candidates to publicly face off ahead of New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday, so it will likely be important for the candidates who do appear on stage to showcase their views and make last-minute appeals to voters.