GOP candidates prepare for first debate

Campaign 2016
by Kent Covington & Nick Eicher
Posted 7/22/15, 12:55 pm

The staff of The World and Everything in It has profiled 22 possible 2016 presidential candidates in its “White House Wednesday” series. Now they take a look at who’s ahead and who’s making moves as the big campaign gets closer.

The first debate between Republican presidential candidates is just two weeks away. Only the 10 candidates with the best polling numbers will get to participate. Fox News will hold a candidate forum earlier that day for those who don’t make the cut.

Right now, eight candidates look like they have secured their spots: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, and Donald Trump.

Backers of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are pulling out all the stops to ensure he’s on that debate stage, too. The Opportunity and Freedom political action committee, has been running an ad for Perry’s campaign nationally in recent weeks, perhaps in an effort to raise his profile ahead of the Aug. 6 debate. It’s not typical to see national ad buys at this early stage of the campaign. Usually, candidates concentrate their spending in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina at this point. But now they have to try and move the poll numbers to make sure they get on the debate stage. As things stand right now, Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would grab the last two spots. 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who announced his candidacy Tuesday, has gained no traction in early polls, putting him at risk of being left out of the debate, which will be held in his own backyard in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s in 11th place in the Real Clear Politics average, a point behind Christie and a half-point behind Perry. If he gets a little bounce out of his announcement, that could be enough to get him on the stage. 

Those squeezed out of the primetime debate could encounter fundraising problems as a result. Supporters don’t want to give money to something they perceive as a lost cause. If you’re not able to make it into the debate, it doesn’t help your case.

Listen to “White House Wednesday” on The World and Everything in It.

Nick Eicher

Nick lives in St. Louis, loves the Blues (as in the NHL), is executive producer of WORLD Radio, and co-hosts WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickEicher.

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