Political People: ABC News eliminating three from upcoming debate

ABC News is eliminating Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter and Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel from its presidential debates Saturday night because they did not meet benchmarks for their support.

The Democratic debate will be held three days before the New Hampshire primary.

ABC reports that the debate will include Iowa caucus winner Barack Obama, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Richardson. It starts at 7 p.m. EDT.

Republicans Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani, will hold their own forum.

ABC anchor Charles Gibson will moderate both debates.

Candidates had to meet at least one of three criteria: place first through fourth in Iowa, poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major New Hampshire surveys, or poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major national surveys.

ABC said the rules were quite inclusive, and that none of the candidates objected ahead of time.

Democrats Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropped out of the race Thursday night.

“In previous debates where the stage was more crowded you had to make sure all of the candidates got equal time,” said David Chalian, ABC News political director. “Here you will have more time to go in depth on the issues.”

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