Republican presidential candidates Chris Christie of New Jersey and former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Minesota will not be among the top-tier candidates on Fox Business Network/Wall Street Journal-moderated debate stage on Nov. 10. The two candidates have been relegated to the undercard debate, where they will join Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Both Christie and Huckabee failed to meet the criteria set by the debate moderators, which stated that they needed to average 2.5 percent of voter support in the four most recent national polls. Both candidates only garnered an average of 2.25 percent.
The announcement was made by Fox Business Network on Nov. 5.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former Gov. George Pataki of New York will not be invited to the undercard debate after both failed to garner 1 percent of voter support.
The news arrives just as Christie’s campaign was enjoying an upswing in momentum following his perceived strong showing at the CNBC debate on Oct. 28 and the release of a viral video where he discusses his compassionate perspective on drug addiction. The New Jersey governor was also beginning to gain momentum in the polls for the New Hampshire primary, NBC News reports.
On Nov. 5, Christie responded to being cut from the top-tier debate by tweeting, "It doesn’t matter the stage, give me a podium and I’ll be there to talk about real issues like this,” linking his followers to the much-shared viral video.
Huckabee also took to Twitter to write, "I’m happy to debate anyone, anywhere, anytime … We are months away from actual votes being cast and neither the pundits nor the press will decide this election, the people will.”
Christie’s supporters remain defiant about the potentially devastating setback. Some have suggested that sharing a stage with only three other candidates will provide the New Jersey governor with a bigger portion of the spotlight.
"Even if he goes to the first debate, he's going to get a lot more time, which is a lot more time for him to tell his story," Iowa lobbyist Mikel Derby told Politico.
The candidates who will be joining the main debate stage on Nov. 10 are the remaining eight who weathered Fox Business’ polling criteria. They are, in order of how much they averaged: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, Carly Fiorina, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, according to CNN Money.
Both the Graham and Pataki campaigns have criticized their dismissal from the debates, arguing that the criteria was unfair and based upon national name recognition, The Hill reports.
“Running for the most important leadership position in the world shouldn't be reduced to the level of 'American Idol' or 'Survivor,’” Pataki said in a statement.