Pressure Rises on CNN to Modify GOP Debate Rules

By Mark Joyella Comment

Rich Lowry argues CNN’s debate criteria–as he describes them, “fair, transparent standards for who will occupy the 10 slots in its prime-time debate”–no longer make sense given the rise of Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. Lowry argues the criteria “couldn’t be more harmful to her if she had shot CNN honcho Jeff Zucker’s dog.”

Many believe Fiorina, whose standing in national polls did not earn her a slot in the main event Fox News debate August 6, was widely considered a standout performer in the “kids table” debate that evening, and has experienced a surge since then. Fiorina is currently polling at 10 percent according to Public Policy Polling, just one point behind Jeb Bush. That puts her in fifth place among the GOP candidates, but still not eligible for the CNN main debate, under the network’s rules.

Lowry explains why in the New York Post:

At this rate, Carly Fiorina will hold the dubious distinction of being the strongest primary candidate excluded from a presidential-nomination debate in recent memory, although she will get the consolation prize of the CNN undercard event.

What happened? CNN decided to use polls going all the way back to July 16, weeks before the first Fox debate on Aug. 6 scrambled the field. This reaches back to a period when Fiorina was routinely polling as low as 1 percent or even at 0.

Fiorina has described CNN’s rules as unfair, suggesting the network is improperly affecting the course of the Republican nomination process. “It’s frustrating to say the least if CNN is putting their thumb on the scale,” Fiorina told Fox News on Friday. “I’m also comfortably within the top five in virtually every statewide poll that has been taken since that debate.”