Instead, they will be in the so-called “undercard” debate held earlier in the day.
The prime time debate will feature eight candidates, each of whom passed a polling average threshold.
“It doesn’t matter the stage, give me a podium and I’ll be there to talk about real issues like this,” Christie tweeted. He linked to a video of him that has gone viral, in which he talks of the epidemic of addiction and the failure to treat it like a disease. It has reached almost 6 million views since it was posted by Huffington Post.
“I’m happy to debate anyone, anywhere, anytime,” Huckabee tweeted. “We are months away from actual votes being cast and neither the pundits nor the press will decide this election, the people will.”
The candidates who made the prime time debate each scored 2.5% or higher based on an average of the four most recent national polls. They are: Donald Trump (25.3%), Ben Carson (24.5%), Marco Rubio (11.8%), Ted Cruz (10.0%), Jeb Bush (5.5%), Carly Fiorina (3.0%), John Kasich (2.8%) and Rand Paul (2.5%).
Christie and Huckabee will be joined in the “undercard” debate by Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum. Candidates in that debate must have met a threshold of at least 1% support as determined by at least one of the four most recent national polls. George Pataki and Lindsey Graham failed to even make that mark and will not participate in that debate, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET.
The primetime debate is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET and last two hours. Maria Bartiromo, Neil Cavuto and Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker will moderate.