After New Hampshire, Some GOP Candidates May Not Qualify for CBS News Debate

By Mark Joyella 

As the Republican presidential contest heads South, several candidates will need a strong showing in the polls if they hope to qualify for the next GOP debate, set for Saturday night on CBS.

Under CBS News’ new debate criteria, candidates who weren’t among the leaders in Iowa or New Hampshire will have to perform strongly in polls released by noon on Friday if they hope to make the debate stage.

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, as the top three finishers in Iowa, had already qualified. With top-five finishes in New Hampshire, John Kasich and Jeb Bush have also locked up their lecterns.


That leaves Chris Christie, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. To qualify, they will have to place among the top five candidates in averages of national and South Carolina polls by Friday–and receive a minimum of 3 percent in Iowa, New Hampshire or polls in South Carolina or nationwide.

Christie has returned home to New Jersey to evaluate his campaign [UPDATE, 11:00 a.m. ET: Christie is reportedly suspending his campaign], while Carson and Fiorina have vowed to fight on. Fiorina, who failed to qualify for the ABC News debate in New Hampshire, has begun campaigning for a spot on stage Saturday, suggesting CBS should change its criteria:

Update: 3:10 p.m. ET: Fiorina has suspended her campaign.

The CBS News debate will be moderated by Face the Nation host John Dickerson, along with CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett and The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel.