Let’s be honest, last week’s Democratic debate was a zoo. You had some really good questions, but only one or two candidates could answer them before Brian Williams was off to something else. Granted, a lot of these candidates have similar views on the big issues, but that means we’ll only be able to determine the best candidate in the details — and we just didn’t get there Thursday night.

Reading this morning that there were 10 Republican candidates compared to last week’s eight Dems, well, lets just say I had heartburn at the thought of live blogging the debate on May 15. Heck, I had heartburn at the thought of just watching it. But, leave it to the South Carolina GOP to thin the herd.

The party sent a letter to the candidates saying they must have filed papers establishing an exploratory committee or full-blown candidacy and paid the fees associated with the state primary ($25,000). They also must have “garnered at least 1 percent in recent state and national polls leading up to the registration deadline, as determined by Fox News Channel and the South Carolina Republican Party.”

Thank goodness! According to the latest national Fox News poll, that puts Rudy Giluiani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter, and Mike Huckabee as the seven that may appear. And some of those may not get the slot if there is more up-to-date polling done before May 15 — Thompson and Brownback failed to poll at one percent in subsequent polls be the Pew Research Group and NBC and Hunter and Huckabee are similarly on the bubble.

For those looking to see the WHOLE crowd, NBC will be hosting a debate this Thursday hosted by Chris Matthews that will include the lot listed above, along with Jim Gilmore, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo.

UPDATE: All 10 made the cut. Terrific.