Because Carly Fiorina’s poll numbers have quickly gone up the past month, her campaign is now demanding that the candidate be included as a star attraction and that she not be relegated to a bit role at the next Republican debate.
As Fiorina has surged ahead of the also-ran opponents who accompanied her onstage at the first candidates forum held by Fox News earlier this month, she has become a much more high-profile candidate. But as she gains more support and name recognition, Fiorina might still not make the cut for the second Republican debate slated for next month.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) decided on CNN as the host of the next debate, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Prior to the first debate, Fiorina had not polled in the top 10 among candidates — she was relegated to a second-tier forum with the likes of former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — who have virtually no chance to win the nomination.
After this snub, and with the possibility that she will not make the next cut, either, Fiorina’s Deputy Campaign Manager Sasha Isgur Flores fired away at the RNC for a “rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage next month.”
In the statement, her campaign blasted both the RNC and CNN for a scenario where the surging candidate will again be kept off of the main stage.
“It will be disappointing if [RNC Chairman] Reince Priebus and the Republican establishment stand by and let a TV network keep Carly off the main stage … again,” Flores said. “It’s a simple question: Will we have a fair debate process or will the political establishment keep ignoring grassroots Republicans?”
According to Flores, “Carly won the debate[s] on August 6th” and is polling between fourth and seventh place in recent national surveys. The former Hewlett-Packard executive has come under some fire for her rocky time at the company, but she has nonetheless made that business and corporate experience a cornerstone of her campaign for president. Fiorina has also made some waves with her stances in defense of personal liberty and advocating for parents’ right to not vaccinate their children.
Fiorina’s campaign is certainly firing up a segment of Republican voters, but because CNN decided to use an average of polls dating back to July 16, she may again not get her time in the debate spotlight. According to the campaign, she is currently polling quite well in several battleground states, which the Republican party is desperate to win during the general election in November 2016.
Flores broke down Fiorina’s surge by several states including New Hampshire and Iowa, which are the first states to vote in primaries next year. According to Public Policy polling, she is third among all candidates at 10 percent in New Hampshire. In South Carolina she is fourth, Wisconsin fifth, Florida fifth, Ohio sixth, Pennsylvania fourth, Nevada second and Iowa fifth.
For a previously unknown candidate, these are all impressive. The voters are speaking up and wanting to see more of Fiorina, and CNN should update its formula to reflect that reality. Keeping the most-formidable female Republican candidate off the debate stage for a second time won’t look good for either the party or the network.
So free Fiorina and let her debate on the main stage! Otherwise, the mostly monochromatic and male panel will continue to look alarmingly like an old boys’ club. And as the GOP tries to attract younger and more women voters, that’s not a good look for the party.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.