The Republican presidential debate situation is a mess. With far too much talent, and about ten too many contenders, the early presidential debate process continue its devolution into chaos.

The first official debate was scheduled to take place August 6. Or at least it was until C-SPAN decided to throw their party first. Unlike Fox New’s debate stage which would only hold the top 10 GOP candidates according to national polling, C-SPAN invited all 17 contenders to their “Voters First Forum” to be held August 3.

The Hill reports:

Publishers at the New Hampshire Union Leader, The Post and Courier of South Carolina, and Iowa’s The Gazette say the forum was prompted in part by Fox’s controversial decision to cap the number of candidates in its Aug. 6 debate at 10.

“Fox says only the ‘top’ 10 candidates, as judged solely by national polling, will be allowed on its stage,” the publishers said in a joint statement. “That may be understandable later, but the first votes are half a year away and there are a lot more than 10 viable candidates.”

“The early primary process gives all candidates a chance to be heard,” they continued. “If networks and national polls are to decide this now, the early state process is in jeopardy and only big money and big names will compete.”

The statement reflects the concerns of many Republicans, who say the national media and unreliable early polls shouldn’t play a role in determining the top tier of candidates in a year when the GOP has a deep and diverse field.

Who’s attending C-SPAN’s all inclusive shin dig?

So far, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), and former New York Gov. George Pataki have committed to the C-SPAN forum.

Of those, only Carson is currently a lock to participate in the Fox News debate. The rest of the candidates will be working to raise their poll numbers to qualify for a spot on the debate stage.

Which might explain why Ted Cruz is challenging Fox News’ debate stage standards.

In an odd request, Cruz’s camp sent a memo to other GOP presidential campaigns encouraging collective pressure on Fox News to change their debate entry qualifications. The suggestions made by Cruz’s campaign would effectively invalidate all polls conducted thus far, observed IJ Review’s Justin Greener.

Politico reports:

In a memo sent to fellow GOP campaigns on Wednesday, Chris Wilson, who serves as director of research and analytics for the Cruz campaign, called Fox News’ standards for deciding which national polls are used in its debate entry process “unclear.” Wilson asks the other campaigns to “consider joining with us” in encouraging the network to impose additional polling standards. As it stands, Fox News is allowing the Top 10 contenders, based on an average of the five most recent national polls, into the Aug. 6 debate.

“I’m sure you are aware, the standards set by Fox News for the first GOP Presidential debate are unclear and, it would appear, undefined,” Wilson writes in the memo.

Wilson’s recommended changes are curiously specific.

Among the Cruz campaign’s suggestions: That polls included in the national average must have at least 1,000 interviews with primary voters and must be done by telephone (not online). However, no telephone poll conducted this year has surveyed that many GOP primary voters.

Wilson also suggests that, for a survey to be included in the national average, it must not be conducted on a Friday or Saturday — when fewer voters are home to answer the phone.

Fox News was not impressed and had a pretty sick burn in response to Cruz’s memo:

“I can’t wait until Senator Cruz is President, so he can tell all the networks how to run their business,” said Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente.

Legal Insurrection has reached out to the Cruz campaign who, at the time this was posted, had not offered a comment. We will update should they respond.

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