Candidates respond to shake-up in GOP debate lineup

Republican 2016 hopefuls responded Friday to the candidate line-up for the Nov. 10 presidential debates, with those relegated or left out entirely trying to put on a brave face, or in some cases reacting angrily to what could be a severe blow for already languishing campaigns.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee were relegated to the earlier 7 p.m. debate, while Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and former New York Gov. George Pataki were removed from the debate night line-up completely, having failed to consistently gain more than one percent of support in recent polls.

The four polls used were conducted by: Fox News; Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP; Quinnipiac University; and The Wall Street Journal/NBC News.

Some candidates, such as Christie, brushed off the decision on Twitter and said it “didn’t matter” which debate he was on.

However, a Republican strategist suggested the drop is more serious for Christie than some of the other candidates.

"This really hurts Christie’s standing, because no one ever thought that the others ever stood a chance,” Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist, told

Huckabee also reacted positively to the news, saying it was still a long time until the election and a lot could change.

"I'm happy to debate anyone, anywhere, anytime. We are months away from actual votes being cast and neither the pundits nor the press will decide this election, the people will,” Huckabee said in a statement.

Other candidates expressed their dissatisfaction about their exclusion,

“We are sincerely disappointed in FOX Business and the Wall Street Journal’s decision to use the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that only listed ten candidates as options rather than the full field,” Christian Ferry, Graham’s campaign manager told

“It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day. In the end, the biggest loser tonight is the American people and the Republican Presidential primary process that has been hijacked by news outlets," he said.

Pataki called debate organizers' reliance on national polls "a disservice to voters everywhere" and "a clear boost to the worship of celebrity over accomplishment and ideas."

"The voters — not networks driven by ratings or national polls that are statistically irrelevant — should decide our next president," he said Thursday after Fox Business Network announced the lineup.

Bonjean noted that the lineups brought with them serious consequences as being left off the stage can dry up campaign support.

“For those that are left off the stage, this can force the campaigns to come to an end because the fundraising and grassroots support dry up.  The bottom line is if you aren’t part of the debate, then you aren’t playing on the field,” Bonjean said.

The Fox Business Network debate, presented in partnership with The Wall Street Journal, will focus on jobs, taxes and the economy, as well as other issues. It will be held at the Milwaukee Theatre in Milwaukee, Wis.

FBN and Fox News Channel announced Thursday that cable and satellite providers have joined to make the debate available to all their subscribers.

DIRECTV, Suddenlink, Mediacom, Frontier, Wide Open West, and Cable One, and some National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) companies, plan to “unbundle” FBN so all subscribers can watch it during the debate. The debate can also be viewed at and

The two debates start at 7 p.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET.'s Adam Shaw and Fox News' Serafin Gomez contributed to this report.