CNN, Nancy Reagan Invite 16 of 17 Republican Presidential Candidates to Sept. 16 Debates

Republican 2016 presidential candidates Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Ohio Governor John Kasich stand at their podiums at the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6. Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - All but one of the 17 Republicans vying for the party's presidential nomination have made the cut so far for the next debates hosted by CNN, the network said on Tuesday in a decision that could leave former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore on the sidelines.

CNN and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which is co-hosting the Sept. 16 debates, said invitations have been sent by former first lady Nancy Reagan to 16 candidates who meet their criteria. All but Gilmore "have qualified thus far and have received invitations," they said in a statement.

Earlier this year CNN said candidates must meet certain criteria, including an average of 1 percent of support in three recent national polls. CNN's latest poll released showed Gilmore at the bottom of the pack with less than one percent.

"Additional candidates will receive invitations if they meet all of the previously released debate criteria." CNN and the library said.

Like last week's Republican presidential debates hosted by Fox News, the CNN event will actually be two debates - dividing the crowded Republican field into two groups, with one featuring the top 10 candidates.

Although nearly all of the candidates made the cut for the CNN event, it is still unclear how the field will look a month from now when CNN and the library determine how to split the group based on their standing as of Sept. 10.

Gilmore, who was governor of Virginia from 1998-2002 and previously made a brief run for the presidency in 2008, also has until then to try to boost his recognition among voters to make the cut. The candidates are vying to be their party's nominee in the presidential election in November 2016.

Representatives for the former governor could not be immediately reached for comment.