Ted Cruz Moves up to Stand Beside Donald Trump at Center of GOP Debate Stage

Chris Christie is back on the main stage.

— -- Nine candidates will be on the main stage for the last Republican presidential debate of 2015, CNN announced this morning.

As the frontrunner, Donald Trump still occupies the podium in the center of the stage. But this time, he will be flanked by Ted Cruz as well as Ben Carson. Last time Rubio and Carson were on either side of Trump.

The podium configuration comes as new polling released this weekend shows Cruz inching up on Trump nationally and giving him strong competition in Iowa, where the two are neck-and-neck.

In order to qualify for the main stage, candidates had to average at least 3.5 percent nationally in polls recognized by CNN, and at least 4 percent in Iowa and New Hampshire.

CNN reported that Paul was "saved at the 11th hour" with a Fox News poll released this morning showing him with 5 percent of support in Iowa.

Paul is averaging 3.67 percent in Iowa, according to an ABC News analysis using CNN's debate criteria.

To qualify for the undercard debate, held just before the main debate, candidates needed to hit 1 percent in at least four national, Iowa or New Hampshire polls recognized by CNN.

ABC News' Ryan Struyk contributed reporting.

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