When Will The Last JV Debate Be? The Undercard Debates May Be Finally Facing The Closing Curtain
Back in September, when Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer mentioned ending undercard debates, he had some of the lowest-polling Republican candidates shaking in their boots at the mere idea. He said at the time that October's debate could be the final opportunity for them to make their mark. That didn't happen, however, as only Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Texas Governor Rick Perry have dropped out, and now four candidates will square off Tuesday in Milwaukee two hours before the heavy hitters. So when is the last undercard GOP debate? It could be Tuesday night.
NBC News reported last week that the Republican National Committee has been challenged by some of the candidates' campaigns who want more say over the debate process. Less popular candidates' campaigns have pushed for there two be two debates with the line-ups determined at random. The Associated Press also reported that the undercard debate likely "will be eliminated altogether as early as the GOP's December debate."
This week's undercard debate drew headlines when it was announced that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee would be demoted to the earlier debate. George Pataki, the former New York governor, and Graham, a South Carolina senator, were eliminated altogether, drawing complaints from even some at the RNC about how polls have been used by networks to decide the invites.
Chairman of the Republican National Committee's debate subcommittee, Steve Duprey, told the AP that using national polls ignores the candidates' standing in the first primary states where they spend the majority of their time. "When you do debates based on national polls, it undermines the ability of a lesser-known, lesser-funded candidate to get traction," said Duprey." He said even current heavyweights like Bill Clinton or John McCain would have struggled if they were subject to the current system when they ran.
Candidates had to poll 2.5 percent or higher, when averaging the last four polls conducted through Nov. 4, to make the main debate and one percent for the undercard. Pataki said in a statement that this caused a "a disservice to voters everywhere, especially those in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and a clear boost for the worship of celebrity over accomplishment and ideas."
The debate will air on Fox Business Network at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will join Huckabee and Christie on stage. The debate will be moderated by Fox Business anchors Trish Regan, Sandra Smith, and The Wall Street Journal's Washington Bureau Chief Gerald Seib.