Fox Business Network has shrunk the main stage to seven candidates for Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in North Charleston, S.C., and the fields in both major parties will continue to narrow until only two contenders — one Republican and one Democrat — meet in the general election debates this fall.

Or will they? In an interview set to air Jan. 24, the co-chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates told “The Open Mind” public television series that they are giving serious thought to the inclusion of a third-party candidate — something that hasn’t happened since 1992, when Ross Perot joined Republican President George H. W. Bush and Democratic nominee Bill Clinton onstage.

“The dynamic in the electorate right now and the dissatisfaction with the two major political parties could very conceivably allow an independent or a third-party candidate to emerge, and we are very clear that they would be welcome in these debates,” commission co-chair Michael McCurry told “Open Mind” host Alexander Heffner.

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