Fox News released its lineup for Thursday’s GOP debate on Monday night, announcing that the stage will hold seven candidates, cutting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina from the lineup.
In preparation for the primetime debate, which will air at 9 p.m. eastern, Fox Business Network reportedly selected its lineup based off of the top six candidates in the five most recent national polls, as well any candidates polling in the top five in either Iowa or New Hampshire.
The main stage will feature the smallest GOP lineup thus far, and will include real estate mogul Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
As a consolation, Paul and Fiorina have been invited to participate in the “undercard” debate, which airs at 6 p.m. eastern Thursday. The other GOP candidates participating in the debate are former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Paul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that because he has been excluded from the main stage, he plans to boycott the debate altogether. “I won’t participate in anything that’s not first tier because we have a first tier campaign,” he explained.
Paul then told the Washington Post that he has resulted to “take the debate to Iowa and New Hampshire” instead.
“I think they’ve made a mistake,” Paul said. “I’m not willing to accept a designation as a minor campaign. We’ve raised $25 million. We’ve gotten on the ballot on every state. It’s kind of ridiculous to arbitrarily rate the campaigns based on national polling.”
Fiorina, who has also battled low polling numbers, faced off on the undercard stage during the first GOP debate, and was then moved to the main stage after CNN amended its rules for the lineup. Fiorina has yet to publicly respond to Fox’s announcement.