Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is fighting to get on the debate stage on Saturday, the last one before the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday.

Current rules will issue invitations to the Republican candidates who finished in the top three in Monday’s Iowa caucus — that would be Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Donald Trump, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) — or who rank in the top six in averages of the latest national polls, or in averages of Granite State polls. As The Hill notes, the final decision will be made on Thursday.

After Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) announced on Wednesday that they were suspending their campaigns, only Fiorina and former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R-VA) would be left on the sidelines of Saturday’s debate. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee dropped out Monday after the caucus results were reported. For the first time this election cycle, there will be no undercard debate.

Gilmore had a total of twelve supporters — yes, as in just twelve people — in the entire state of Iowa on Monday, and efforts to track down any of those twelve Gilmoreans created the most press attention he had received in months. In contrast, Fiorina has some arguments that are not without merit.

“Our debate process is broken,” begins the open letter that Fiorina sent to the Republican National Committee (RNC), who she implores “to act in the best interest of the Party that it represents,” instead of allowing the television networks “arbitrarily to decide which candidates make for the best TV.”

Fiorina points out that in 2012, all declared candidates still in the race were invited to the debates, and allowing her to participate would mean the same number of candidates (eight).

She also argues that she beat Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) at the Iowa caucuses, and has twice the cash-on-hand as either of them, but they were both invited to the debate.

In a conference call earlier Wednesday with media, donors, and supporters, Fiorina pointed out that she “tied with Jeb Bush in delegate count” at the Iowa caucus, even though Bush poured tens of millions of dollars more into the state. Kasich also earned one delegate.

Fiorina was able to successfully argue her way into a main stage debate back in September. Legal Insurrection reached out to the Fiorina campaign for further comment, and deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur Flores replied that they did not have any updates yet. The Washington Examiner reported earlier that the RNC had not responded to a request for comment.

The next Republican debate, sponsored by ABC News and IJ Review, is scheduled for Saturday, at St. Anselm College in Manchester, and the New Hampshire primary will follow on Tuesday. [Disclosure: the author is also a contributor at IJ Review.] 

Carly Fiorina’s Letter to the RNC regarding debate process

February 3, 2016

Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

To the Chairman and Members of the Republican National Committee,

Our debate process is broken. Networks are making up these debate rules as they go along — not to be able to fit candidates on the stage — but arbitrarily to decide which candidates make for the best TV in their opinion. Now it is time for the RNC to act in the best interest of the Party that it represents.

In 2012, the debate stage featured 8 candidates until the Iowa Caucus and then all declared candidates still in the race were invited from that point forward, including the ABC New Hampshire debate. As of today, I will be the only candidate kept off the debate stage. To review, we beat Governors Christie and Kasich in Iowa this week when voters actually had their say. This campaign has the same number of delegates as Governors Bush and Kasich while Governor Christie has zero. We’re ahead of Dr. Carson in New Hampshire polling. We are 6th in hard dollars raised and have twice the cash on hand as either Governors Christie or Kasich. We are already on the ballot in 32 states, and there is a ground game with paid staff in 12 states. Yet, all of these candidates will be invited to the ABC debate. I will not.

There are only 8 candidates left. It’s time for the RNC to demand that media executives step aside and let voters hear from all of us.

I trust you will act appropriately.

Carly Fiorina

Should Carly be permitted to participate?

Before you vote, view this video of Carly’s participation in the last undercard debate, Peak Carly:

Poll open until Midnight (Pacific Time), the night of February 4, 2016


Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.