Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, looks on at the second Republican presidential debate Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Thursday, the Fox Business Network announced Christie, who currently has average poll support of 2.3 percent, did not qualify for the prime-time debate in Milwaukee next week. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The next prime-time Republican debate in Milwaukee on Tuesday will be much like the previous three, with two distinct exceptions -- contenders Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee will be on the undercard instead of the main event.
Fox Business Network, which will co-host the Nov. 10 debate with the Wall Street Journal, announced the prime-time lineup on Lou Dobbs Tonight Thursday evening -- which included all of the usual faces, except the New Jersey governor and former Arkansas governor.
Instead, Huckabee and Christie will appear in the secondary debate, which occurs immediately prior to the prime-time event.
Fox Business said it used the most recent polls from Fox News, Investor's Business Daily/TIPP, Quinnipiac University, and The Wall Street Journal/NBC News to qualify candidates for both debates. Candidates averaging 2.5 percent or better in those four polls qualified for the main debate.
Huckabee received 4 percent in the latest Fox News poll and 3 percent in the NBC/WSJ poll -- but received 1 percent in the other two to give him an average of 2.3 percent.
Thursday, though, Huckabee tweeted that he's okay with being demoted to the secondary debate.
"I'm happy to debate anyone, anywhere, anytime," he said. "We are months away from actual votes being cast and neither the pundits nor the press will decide this election, the people will."
Christie, who responded in a similar fashion, received 3 percent in each of the most recent NBC/WSJ and Quinnipac polls -- but drew just 3 percent in the other two polls combined, also for an average of 2.3 percent.
"It doesn't matter the stage, give me a podium and I'll be there to talk about real issues," Christie tweeted.
Those who did qualify for the prime-time debate are Donald Trump (25.3 percent), Ben Carson (24.5 percent), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (11.8 percent), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (10 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (5.5 percent), Carly Fiorina (3 percent), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (2.8 percent) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (2.5 percent).
Fox Business said the candidates who will join Huckabee and Christie in the earlier debate -- which requires polling between 1 and 2.4 percent in any of the four qualifying polls -- are Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Two GOP candidates will be left out of Tuesday's debate altogether -- Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki, since they both failed to meet the 1 percent qualification threshold.
"The biggest loser tonight is the American people and the Republican presidential primary process that has been hijacked by news outlets," Graham's campaign said in response.
"Running for the most important leadership position in the world shouldn't be reduced to the level of American Idol or Survivor, " Pataki said via his Twitter account.
The hour-long secondary debate is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. EST Tuesday, and be moderated by Fox anchors Trish Regan and Sandra Smith, and Wall Street Journal Washington Bureau Chief Gerald Seib. The two-hour prime-time event is set to begin at 9 p.m. EST, and be moderated by Fox anchors Maria Bartiromo, Neil Cavuto and the Journal's editor-in-chief, Gerard Baker.