First GOP debate scheduled; how many candidates will be there?

Mark your calendars -- the first Republican presidential debate has now been locked down. It's set take place in Cleveland in August, but the invitation process is going get very complicated very quickly.

FOX News is going to host this first debate on August 6th.

These things are always the result of pretty intense negotiations between party officials and media organizations -- made much more complicated this time around by this enormous Republican field.

We may tend to think of presidential debates as those carefully crafted, one on one kinds of productions that are the mainstays of our election process. But with a host of GOP primary candidates, this can quickly become a free-for-all.

FOX has announced that the first debate will have limits based on a series national polls. Only those who make a top-ten cut will be invited to attend.

"And try to sort out what is a very crowded very evenly matched Republican field," said FOX News Digital Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt.

But right now, that criteria, if you look at polling data from Real Clear Politics -- would leave potential candidates like John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham off the list.

"I think we've going to have a very robust, healthy, and I hope thoughtful and intense debate, but I'm also praying that it is not fratricide," said GOP candidate Mike Huckabee.

And that is a concern for Republican party officials.  They know that on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is the odds on favorite for her party's nomination and the Republican debates could become chaos -- where the candidates get so banged-up that it will weaken the GOP for the general election.  

On the other hand, these debates can also generate interest or excitement.

"What we've done is just reasonable limited the number of debates and we want to work with our debate partners in making sure the process is fair," said Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus.

Now again, the top 10 candidates that will participate in the debate will be determined by poll. But those polls will be the ones right before the debate. And a lot can happen to this field between now and August.
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