Fox News Tweaks Debate Rules, Helps Trailing Candidates

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WASHINGTON —

Fox News is making it easier for Republican presidential candidates who don’t make the cut for the network’s August 6 prime-time debate to get at least some attention in an earlier event.

A network spokeswoman confirmed to CNN Tuesday that it is dropping the mandate that candidates earn at least 1 percent support in an average of the five most recent national polls in order to qualify for its 5 p.m. debate — an appetizer before the main event, an evening debate for the top 10 highest polling candidates.

Fox News executive vice president Michael Clemente first told Politico of the change, saying in a statement that it’s due to “overwhelming interest” in the event.

The change is helpful for a handful of candidates, including businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki, who are all hovering around 1 percent in recent polls.