by Maxwell Tani
Donald Trump will again be center stage at the third Republican debate — flanked by Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
CNBC, the host of the debate, announced its official lineup on Wednesday, a week before the debate is scheduled to take place.
The network will air two debates: a two-hour main-stage contest at 8 p.m. ET, which will feature the top-10 candidates averaging more than 2.5% support in several selected national polls. Before that, CNBC will host a one-hour “undercard” debate at 6 p.m. ET, which will include the four candidates polling above 1% in at least one select national poll.
CNBC tweeted the names of the candidates who qualified for the main stage on Wednesday afternoon:
The lower-tier debate will again feature four candidates: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), and former New York Gov. George Pataki (R).
The only notable candidate who did not qualify for either is former Sen. Jim Gilmore (R-Virginia), who also did not make the cut for the second Republican undercard debate.
The terms of the third debate have been in dispute for months.
Last week, current Republican front-runner Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson threatened to skip the debate if the network did not agree to certain terms. Trump and Carson, along with several other campaigns, successfully lobbied CNBC to limit the time for the debate and allow the candidates to deliver opening and closing statements.
In September, reports also suggested that the Republican National Committee was considering asking CNBC to eliminate the undercard debate altogether. It sparked protests from some of the lower-tier candidates, including Graham and Jindal. CNBC and the RNC ultimate agreed to include a lower-tier debate, but limited the contest to one hour.