Republican presidential candidates will have to poll at least 2.5 percent during the five preceding weeks to qualify for CNBC's Oct. 28 prime-time debate, the cable network said Wednesday.
The network's decision could drop the number of participants by as many as two from the debate earlier this month on CNN, based on Wednesday's Real Clear Politics average of national polls.
CNBC said the actual threshold for the 8 p.m. debate is 3 percent, though any candidate garnering at least 2.5 percent would be averaged up.
All candidates with 2.5 percent, and at least 1 percent, would qualify for the second-tier debate, to be held at 6 p.m.
The polls will have to be released between Sept. 17 and Oct. 21, the network said. The surveys would have to be conducted by NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, CNN and Bloomberg.
The debates will be held at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
"We have the most diverse and experienced field of candidates in history and we applaud CNBC's efforts to ensure that all of our top candidates will have an opportunity to share their views with the American people," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
The RNC is co-sponsoring the debate with CNBC.
Based on the Real Clear Politics Average
, those making CNBC's cut would be front-runner Donald Trump, retired pediatric surgeon Dr. Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
But only one candidate would drop down to the second-tier contest under CNBC's rules, based on the RCP average: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
The Paul campaign, however, told Newsmax that the senator would make the cut — saying that its polling shows Paul with an average of 2.75 percent.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dropped out of the race shortly after the CNN debate.
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