NEW YORK -- Fox News will limit the number of participants at the Republican Party's first primary debate to candidates finishing in the top 10 of an average of national polls.
Michael Clemente, the network’s Executive Vice President of News Editorial, said in a Monday release that the network will rely on five national polls leading up to Aug. 4, two days before the debate in Cleveland. Fox News will provide additional airtime Aug. 6 outside of the official debate to candidates who don't make the cut, according to the release.
The Washington Post, which first reported on Fox News’ debate criteria, noted it's possible more than 10 participants could appear on stage in the event of a tie.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus took control of the 2016 primary debates after a marathon of 20 debates in the last election cycle. In January, the RNC announced there would only be 9 sanctioned debates, with the possibility of three additional ones.
But with a Republican primary field that could balloon to 15 or 20 candidates, it's remained unclear how to determine who makes it on stage. Last week, Steve Duprey, the chair of the RNC’s 2016 debate committee, told Politico the consensus within the party was that the number of debates should be capped between nine and 12 candidates.
"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,” Priebus said in a Monday statement.
Fox News hosts Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace will moderate the debate and Facebook has signed on as a partner for the event.