Updated at 12:55 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2015
NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have been relegated out of prime-time and onto the undercard at next week’s GOP presidential debate.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham won’t appear at all.
Fox Business, which is hosting next Tuesday’s debate in Milwaukee, announced the decision Thursday night.
Christie responded to the announcement on his Twitter page, saying he’ll still be there, “ready to talk about real issues.”
Only eight candidates will appear in the debate — Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul and John Kasich.
Christie and Huckabee will join Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal on the secondary stage.
According to debate criteria issued by Fox Business last week, candidates must score 2.5 percent or higher in an average of the four most recent major polls conducted through Nov. 4 to be featured in the prime-time debate. They must hit the 1 percent mark to qualify for an undercard debate airing before the main event.
Christie failed to make the main stage because he is polling at less than 2.5 percent.
The blow is a crushing one as the first primary elections draw closer in key states. The lack of face time will hurt candidates who are still struggling to gain momentum.
But Ben Dworkin, political expert at Rider University, told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell that while this is not the news Christie wanted to hear, this in no way closes the door completely.
“The fact that he is not doing well in national polls doesn’t mean he won’t be doing well in New Hampshire,” he said.
Dworkin said Christie has been investing heavily in New Hampshire and the key now is convincing donors he is still viable.
“Telling them that it is going to be OK. Telling them that people don’t vote for another four months,” Dworkin said.
Pataki announced his run for presidency in late May and has had a tough run against opposing candidates from the start.
Pataki spokeswoman Alicia Preston said in a statement earlier Thursday that the focus on national polling undermined candidates’ efforts in the early-voting states where they spend much of their time.
“National news networks are doing the job that has always been left to the people in individual states like New Hampshire,” she said. “It’s the voters’ right and responsibility to choose candidates. This national focus diminishes the significance of the primary process.”
On Wednesday, Christie went viral with with a video published to Facebook by the Huffington Post, where he makes an emotional ‘pro-life’ plea for better treatment of drug addicts. In the video, Christie shares personal anecdotes of his mother’s struggle with lung cancer, and a friend’s losing battle against drug addiction.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)