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No Main Stage Appearance for Carly Fiorina in Next GOP Debate?

No Main Stage Appearance for Carly Fiorina in Next GOP Debate?

CNN issues its final decision

As things stand now, the only woman in the densely populated Republican presidential primary field might not get a spot on the main stage at the next GOP debate.

Carly Fiorina is contesting the decision by CNN, who’s hosting the debate scheduled for September 16. Fiorina claims CNN as well as the RNC were intentional working to keep her off the debate stage.

CNN claims FEC regulations require adherence to debate selection guidelines as they were originally published in May saying, “we believe our approach is a fair and effective way to deal with the highest number of candidates we have ever encountered.”

According to Fox News, RNC Spokesman Sean Spicer* explained they are legally prohibited from interfering with the media’s rules.

The debate stage accommodates the ten highest polling candidates. Based on national polls conducted since the Fox News debate held August 6, Fiorina is polling around 8th place. According to CNN’s qualification guidelines, national polling averages taken between mid-July and mid-September determine which candidates make the top ten.

Would CNN really be tangling with FEC regulations by changing the prime time debate criteria? Probably not. The Wall Street Journal elaborated:

Former FEC chairman Brad Smith said in an interview Friday that the FEC’s rules for debate criteria says only that they must be “pre-established,” not that they cannot be altered.

“If I were CNN’s counsel and the news division asked me if they could change the rules, I’d feel pretty comfortable in saying you can do that,” said Mr. Smith, who is now a law professor at Capital University in Ohio. “It’s not something where the regulation prohibits it.”

CNN did not identify specific FEC guidelines it says forbids it from changing the announced qualification criteria.

Though CNN might not face legal ramifications from the FEC should they alter the main stage debate qualifications, the cable news network could risk inviting a legal contest from whichever candidate would be knocked off the stage to make room for Fiorina.

Of course changing the rules to allow Mrs. Fiorina in would force out a top-10 candidate from the first debate, likely New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) – unless CNN allowed 11 candidates on the stage. The excluded candidate could invite a legal challenge based on an argument that CNN changed pre-established criteria.

“Taking the position that CNN is taking minimizes their risk,” Mr. Smith said. “This kind of law is a risk management practice. I’d feel comfortable in telling them you can do this.”

The WSJ also pointed out that Fox News changed their debate criteria twice, “first to include the second-tier session, and later to allow candidates to participate even if they were not polling at 1% in national surveys.”

Friday afternoon, CNN issued a statement indicating they were holding fast to their decision to uphold the originally published debate standards:

A CNN spokeswoman said the network won’t change its debate qualification standards before the Sept. 16 debate.

“Our criteria are totally appropriate and we have been absolutely transparent about them throughout. If the Fiorina campaign had an issue with them they could have raised it when we published them in May. They did not,” the spokeswoman said. “Revising the criteria on the eve of the debate at the demand of and solely for the benefit of one particular candidate is not something we have done in the past, and we will not do it now.”

Unless CNN unexpectedly yields, Fiorina might once again debate in the second tier — a scenario that worked quite well for her the first time around.

*We reached out to Spicer for further clarification. At the time this post was published, we had not yet received comment. Should that change, we will update accordingly.

UPDATE: Post title changed after publication to reflect possibility Fiorina might still make the main stage.

Follow Kemberlee Kaye on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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I’m going to be interested to see how Carly turns this into a major plus for her, which I’m confident she will.

CNN is out-matched.

    Yes she got more attention by not participating in the FOX news debate and her recognition soared. This will occur again.

The debate stage accommodates the ten highest polling candidates. Based on national polls conducted since the Fox News debate held August 6, Fiorina is polling around 8th place.

Is this an example of Common Core math?

    jayjerome66 in reply to rinardman. | August 29, 2015 at 9:44 am

    No, it’s an example of LI’s authors lacking competency in presenting clear and objective reporting.

    CNN explains it better:

    “CNN published the criteria for the CNN-Reagan Library debate on May 20,” the spokesperson said. “It will encompass polling data from three weeks prior to the first debate and five weeks following. Federal Election Commission guidelines make it clear that these criteria cannot be changed after they have been published. ”

    The time frame WHEN the polls were taken determine who gets on stage, not more recent polling.
    I agree that’s stupid. I’d like to see Carly on stage when the Donald tells her she incompetently nearly flushed HP down the toilet; and in addition she’s a bony-shouldered “5” on the looks scale with a makeup job that looks like it was applied by a 42nd Street hooker.

      Valerie in reply to jayjerome66. | August 29, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Clear and objective reporting, from CNN?


      That’s the “news” organization that tailored their coverage to make nice with Saddam Hussein, and let one of their VPs run around for two years telling lies about newspeople being targeted by US troops.

      CNN does not want to present a platform for Carly Fiorina, because Carly Fiorina is the kind of candidate that would appeal to a wide swath of voters who tend to split their votes between parties, from time to time.

        jayjerome66 in reply to Valerie. | August 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm

        I didn’t say CNN was clear and objective: I only pointed out they were more objective and clearer in presenting the details of this story then LI was.

        And I agree, Carly should be included in the CNN debate.

        But I’m surprised so many regulars here are supporting her as a legitimate candidate, seeing as how Treehouse believes she’s a planted GOPe stooge, and her stance on some issues like immigration seem whisky-washy to say the least.

          Ragspierre in reply to jayjerome66. | August 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm

          You are SUCH a transparently STOOOOOoooooOOOOOooooopid troll.

          And, of course, the lying, hate-twisted POS I’ve proven you to be several times.

          jayjerome66 in reply to jayjerome66. | August 29, 2015 at 6:40 pm

          You’ve never proved me to intentionally lie about anything, you deceitful cowardly fool. When you’ve made the lying accusations and I’ve linked to a source you suddenly vanish in silence (like you did when called out for your phony incorrect PPs 1st Trimester charges, and like you will now to this link to the Conservative Treehouse’s assertion to my comment above):

          Remember, the GOPe road map is created to elect Jeb Bush with a team of candidates running along side him. The nine professional political party-loyal insiders who are in this race to help Bush are:

          Carly Fiorina (VA), Mike Huckabee (AR), Chris Christie (NJ), Marco Rubio (FL), John Kasich (OH), Rick Perry (TX), Lindsey Graham (SC), George Pataki (NY) and Jim Gilmore (VA)

          All of these candidates are only in the race to get Jeb Bush elected with 15-20% of the primary vote. Their specific roles and responsibilities are outlined here. Each has a role to play.

          Ragspierre in reply to jayjerome66. | August 29, 2015 at 7:11 pm

          Lying lies from a lying liar.

          Poor moron. You’ll always TRY to get back at me.

          Really, all you have to do is let it go, and start telling the truth. You can do it, day-by-day…

          Come on! Won’t you TRY…???

Perhaps I missed the part where CNN and the RNC requested a waiver from the regulation. Or, are they just fine with “We are helpless victims. Sorry.”

mumzieistired | August 29, 2015 at 9:26 am

They do not want her on the stage with Jeb.

    jayjerome66 in reply to mumzieistired. | August 29, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Unlike FOX who has a political agenda to favor Jeb, as pointed out here by numerous posters, CNN doesn’t give a rat’s ass about stacking the stage with particular candidates. In fact they’d probably like to see the possible fireworks that could ignite netween her and Trump; it’s the lawsuit they could face if they bumped another candidate to accommodate her appearance, and lawsuits from additional disgruntled low polling candidates for not including them as well.

      Ragspierre in reply to jayjerome66. | August 29, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      I LOVE this “clever troll” act you’re trying to stage!

      You’re trying to dupe posters here into believing YOU are anything BUT the Collectivist POS we’ve ALLLLLL seen repeatedly here.

      ROTFLMAO. And I NEVER say that…!!!

        jayjerome66 in reply to Ragspierre. | August 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm

        Whenever I see one of your nutty posts the crazed image of bug-eyed insane Jack Nicholson in the Shining comes to mind, with him saying “Here’s Ragspierre….”

        You’re really becoming more and more incoherent. Are your medications out of whack?

        MarlaHughes in reply to Ragspierre. | August 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

        I am definitely not a troll and I don’t think Carley should be allowed to force the rules to be changed. She’s not a special snowflake, even though she is a woman. She is definitely able to hold her on in *any* forum and has already proven she can overcome being at the ‘kiddie table’. It would be unfair to both the higher polling candidates who earned their place on the stage and to the lower polling candidates who are scheduled for the other debate. What happens if one of them jumps up in polls before the debate? Change the rules again?

I guess we need a #cnnwaronwomen hashtag assault.

The laughable part is that of the hapless RNC. The establishment that run the Republican Party could do something abut this if they wanted to but they are too busy trying to figure out why they can’t lift jeb up on their shoulders and force him down our throats.

As to Trump wiping the floor with Fiorina I’d like to see that. Don’t get me wrong, I love what Trump is doing to the Republican establishment. But after hearing his interview with Mark Levin I was exhausted because he couldn’t stick with a single train of thought before jumping to another. Fiorina has a much smoother approach.

Don’t forget, this isn’t just a stage to look at the top level, we are also looking at the next potential VP. In a day and age when half the electorate emotes instead of thinks we may need a female undercard that can actually articulate the issues.

Finally, stop the whiny Fiorina ran HP into the ground crap. It is not all cut and dry and she is even getting endorsements from former colleagues at HP. Trump had 4 bankruptcies. If your argument is that 4 is small compared to the many that didn’t fail I guess that is fair. But politics is laser focused on failures; especially when it comes to the liberal media. Don’t expect Trump to get a pass on that by the Unions, media and clapping seals that make up the Democrat Party base.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to Trip. | August 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Name me a business that is more corrupt than real estate development, especially of casino/resort projects.

    The media wants Trump to be the face of the Republican party so they can beat him like a drum on his many adulteries, the cronyism that has long been part of in his deals, the bankruptcies, etc.

      Bingo. Think how much fun they’ll have with Trumpisms like “I beat the he11 out of people until I get what I want” — which is a rather different attitude from “I’ll crawl over broken glass to do what should be done.”

      They can also make great use of Trump’s various pro-Democrat statements, and his material support to Democrats. That could have a vote-suppressing effect on the parts of the conservative base that actually care about policy and principle — as against those who think it’s sufficient to have “a fighter.”

        jayjerome66 in reply to Radegunda. | August 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm

        Nothing the media dredges up about his past wives are going to hurt him, if you haven’t noticed, his past wives defended him against the sexist charges following the Megan Kelly confrontation.

        Unless it can be proved he’s a secret partner in abortion clinics or has been getting kickbacks from the Clinton Foundation, he’s bulletproof to the media.

          MarlaHughes in reply to jayjerome66. | August 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

          I’m with NC. The media is promoting him as the face of conservatism and it’s a nasty face indeed. When they’re ready, they’ll hit him with all the negatives he’s got waiting in the wings and make him out to be a criminal and a hypocrite to boot. Perfect left wing hit job. What’s worse is it’ll be the truth. I know I won’t defend him because I’m one who has been trying to warn the true believers on the right what’s coming. I will sit on the side lines and say “I told you so.” And not vote. Been voting GOP for 40 years. That is one I’d be sitting out. Trump is not conservative and I’m not even sure he’s GOP.

        Ragspierre in reply to Radegunda. | August 29, 2015 at 7:08 pm

        Yes, poor, submissive, abused women.

        They remind one inevitably of Hellary.

        “This is the work of a vast right-wing conspiracy”.

        So sad, really.

CNN is terrified of Carly Fiorina for the simple reason that she outclasses, intellectually, every single Democrat woman, serving or running, period.

RNC Spokesman Sean Spicer explained they are legally prohibited from interfering with the media’s rules

Massive, loser pussy whines about having no power. Aka, Republican.