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Republicans Face Off In 'Happy Hour' Consolation Debate

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks to a reporter as he makes his way through the media center at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, before tonight's first Republican presidential debate. Santorum has not qualified for the primetime debate and will be participating in a pre-debate forum with six other non-qualifying candidates.
Andrew Harnik AP
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks to a reporter as he makes his way through the media center at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, before tonight's first Republican presidential debate. Santorum has not qualified for the primetime debate and will be participating in a pre-debate forum with six other non-qualifying candidates.

Updated at 5:06 p.m.

While they may not have made the main primetime debate stage, there could be plenty of fireworks and serious discussion at the 5 p.m. debate on FOX News between seven presidential hopefuls.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore all missed the cutoff to appear on the main stage at 9 p.m. for the first GOP presidential debate of the primary season.

The 90-minute debate will be moderated by Fox News anchors Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum. You can follow along with NPR's livechat here.

5:06 p.m. The Fox News moderators are going for the jugular. They start off by asking Fiorina whether her own comparisons to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are off base given her low standing in the polls. Santorum is asked whether his moment since his incredible 2012 surge has passed. And Jindal is pressed on his poor approval ratings at home. Tough questions off the bat — but highlights each of the candidates' top weaknesses.

5:01 p.m. First question goes to Perry — who was atop the polls at this time in 2011 but famously flamed out, in part due to his poor debate performances. Perry argues the four years since as governor have made him more prepared. "Americans are going to see I'm ready to be that individual," said Perry.

But This is his biggest hurdle — reintroducing himself to voters. It's hard to make a first impression a second time.

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