CNN Invites All But One Republican Presidential Hopeful To Next Debates

WASHINGTON (Reuters) —

All but one of the 17 Republicans vying for the party’s presidential nomination have made the cut so far for the next candidates’ debates hosted by CNN, the network said on Tuesday in a decision that could leave former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore on the sidelines.

CNN and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which is co-hosting the Sept. 16 debates, said invitations have been sent by former first lady Nancy Reagan to 16 candidates who meet their criteria. All but Gilmore “have qualified thus far and have received invitations,” they said in a statement.

Earlier this year, CNN said candidates must meet certain criteria, including an average of 1 percent of support in three recent national polls. The network’s latest poll showed Gilmore at the bottom of the pack with less than 1 percent.

“Additional candidates will receive invitations if they meet all of the previously released debate criteria,” CNN and the library said.

Like last week’s Republican presidential debates hosted by Fox News, the CNN event will actually be two debates — dividing the crowded Republican field into two groups, with one featuring the top 10 candidates.

Although nearly all of the candidates made the cut for the CNN event, it is unclear how the field will look a month from now when CNN and the library determine how to split the group based on their standing as of Sept. 10.

Gilmore, who was governor of Virginia from 1998-2002 and previously made a brief run for the presidency in 2008, also has until Sept. 10 to try to boost his recognition among voters to make the cut.

A spokesman for Gilmore noted in a statement that he was the last Republican to enter the race officially and said his campaign anticipates that he will be able to meet CNN’s criteria to be invited to the debate, although he gave no specifics.

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