Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina have been demoted to Thursday’s undercard debate, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich maintains a spot on this week’s main stage.
That will shrink the main stage from nine to seven candidates about two weeks ahead of when the first votes are cast. On the main debate stage will be: GOP front-runner Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The lineup for Thursday’s GOP debate in North Charleston, S.C. was unveiled on “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” The network didn’t inform candidates ahead of time about which polls would be used.
Paul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer ahead of the announcement that he got a heads up from the network that he’d be demoted and said he wouldn’t participate in the undercard debate.
“I won’t participate in anything that’s not first tier,” he said. “I think an artificial designation being in the second tier.”
“It’s really a mistake,” the Kentucky senator said, adding that he’ll continue to campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. “The thing is that the Republican Party needs a voice like mine.”
Read more: The Hill