NEW YORK (UPI) — ABC announced changes to the rules for the next Republican presidential debate that could limit the number of candidates on stage to six.

The network said candidates need to do one of three things to qualify for the Feb. 6 debate in New Hampshire: place in the top three in the Iowa caucuses, place among the top six candidates in an average of selected New Hampshire Republican presidential polls or place among the top six in Republican presidential polls nationally.

The criteria will pare two separate events — an undercard debate and a primary debate — to a single event. That could make Thursday’s debate on Fox News the last chance for a handful of candidates to prove to a national audience why they belong on the debate stage.

If applied today, the new criteria would keep Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Va., off the debate stage.

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