Former Gov. Rick Perry has failed to qualify for the first Republican presidential debate, a setback for a candidate who has promised improvement over his ill-fated 2012 run.
Perry was not among those selected Tuesday by Fox News to share the stage Thursday night in Cleveland. The cable network, which is hosting the 8 p.m. debate, based eligibility for it on the top 10 candidates in an average of five recent national polls.
Perry will now participate in a smaller debate Thursday evening with the six other contenders who also were not eligible for the prime-time event. In a tweet, Perry wrote he was looking forward to "a serious exchange of ideas & positive solutions to get America back on track."
Perry and his allies had expressed confidence that he would qualify for the debate but seemed to temper expectations in recent days. Perry's national polling has ticked downward amid the rise of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a late entrant to the race. Perry also has had to grapple with real-estate mogul Donald Trump, who has remained at the top of national polls for weeks despite attention-grabbing fights with the former governor.
The other Texan running for president, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, made the cut for the 8 p.m. debate. He placed sixth in Fox News' top 10.
The earlier debate will be held at 5 p.m. Perry will be joined in it by former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.