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Fiorina, Graham, Perry Fail To Make Cut For Fox GOP Primary Debate

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Allegra Boverman for NHPR
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Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has scored the top spot for Thursday night’s leadoff debate of the 2016 presidential race, joined by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and seven other Republican contenders who made the campaign’s first cut.

Seven others will be excluded, including former technology executive Carly Fiorina and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, relegated to a pre-debate forum and second-tier status in the party’s crowded field.

Fox News announced the 10 GOP White House hopefuls who will take part in the prime-time debate in the crucial swing state of Ohio.

Beyond Trump, those selected among the top 10 — based on recent national polls — include Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Those who didn’t make the field for the first debate include Fiorina, the GOP’s only female presidential candidate, Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

The announcement concludes an anxiety-filled process for a Republican Party that worked aggressively to improve its debates ahead of the election season. Yet with the largest field of contenders in modern memory, organizers say something had to give to ensure the debate in Cleveland didn’t turn into a nationally televised circus.