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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fox News officially announced the lineups for their big Republican debates on Thursday — with a certain loudmouth celebrity getting a position of honor, thanks to his lead in the polls.

The debate’s moderators — Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly, and Bret Baier — explained that the top candidate based on a set of recent national polls will have the center podium. To one side will be the next highest candidate, then the third highest on the other side. The arrangement will then expand outward from there.

For the primetime 9 p.m. debate the candidates are:

1. Donald Trump
2. Jeb Bush
3. Scott Walker
4. Mike Huckabee
5. Ben Carson
6. Ted Cruz
7. Marco Rubio
8. Rand Paul
9. Chris Christie
10. John Kasich

This is a huge success for Kasich, who just entered the race about two weeks ago — and with the well-timed burst of publicity, he overtook Perry for the final spot in the polls last week.

The bottom seven candidates will have an earlier debate at 5 p.m. ET — which has been variously described as the “kids’ table,” the “minor league,” or the “warmup debate,” owing to it being in a much less coveted time slot. They will similarly be arranged in podium order by their aggregate poll ranking, as follows:

11. Rick Perry
12. Rick Santorum
13. Bobby Jindal
14. Carly Fiorina
15. Lindsey Graham
16. George Pataki
17. Jim Gilmore

This means that out of a very wide Republican field, the prime-time debate will not include: the runner-up from the last primary season, Santorum; the only woman on the GOP side, Fiorina; and the first major Asian-American candidate for president, Jindal. They will all be consigned to the second-tier debate — but who knows, perhaps that might be just for the forum for any of those seven candidates to really stand out and earn some attention.

Photo: U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump points as he stands outside his hotel.
(Action Images via Reuters/Russell Cheyne/Livepic)

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