After some controversy, CNN has just announced updated criteria for choosing candidates to participate in the upcoming second GOP presidential debate. And it may very well be good news for Carly Fiorina.
You’ll recall Ms. Fiorina’s campaign (and many others, including us here) had protested CNN’s original criteria, arguing it didn’t give appropriate weight to candidates’ momentum following the August 6th debate — in which Ms. Fiorina delivered what was almost universally deemed a breakout performance.
As The Washington Post reports:
The organizers of the next Republican presidential debate have announced changes to debate criteria that mean former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will almost certainly join the rest of the top-tier candidates on the main stage at the Reagan Library on Sept. 16.
“CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August,” the network announced. “Now, any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between August 6 and September 10 will be included.”
As we shared here, CNN’s original criteria for debate candidate selection smelled to us like liberal media manipulation — as if the network might have been “rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage” — as Fiorina’s campaign itself had alleged. We wondered whether the original criteria were an indication CNN fears Carly Fiorina and would prefer not to allow her on the prime time stage. Could it be, we asked, that CNN doesn’t want America to see a conservative woman, one who will undoubtedly and fearlessly assail the progressive socialist agenda and their “frontrunner” Hillary Clinton?
As The Washington Post continues:
The CNN move is being greeted as a positive development, and not only for the most obvious reason, which is that a woman will be in the mix, in contrast to the 10-man tableau that a huge national television audience saw at the first debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland.
Fiorina also had fairness on her side, say supporters. The original rules would have made the cut according to an average of polls conducted between July 16 and Sept. 10. That arithmetic minimized the significant rise in Fiorina’s numbers since she gave what was widely reviewed as the single best performance of the evening in Cleveland, despite being relegated to the earlier, non-prime-time “undercard” debate of longshot contenders.
Now, Fiorina’s presence on the main stage — which, under the new formula, may end up including more than 10 candidates — is likely to make that faceoff a far more interesting debate.
“We are very pleased that CNN changed its mind. We’ve been hearing from people across the country,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. “They want to see the best debate possible.”
Of course, a big question for the upcoming debate will be how the other candidates stand up to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Here, Ms. Fiorina’s performance to date suggests she will be one to watch.
In the enormous Republican field, she is the only one who has demonstrated anything that rivals the thrust-and-parry skills of front-runner Donald Trump — another political outsider who comes from the business world. Trump dominated the main stage in Cleveland, in part because none of his rivals had any idea how to take him on.
Thus far, she has demonstrated more finely honed reflexes for the punch and the counter-punch than any of the other Republican candidates, with the exception of Trump.
Of course, we’ll all be watching to see who shines in the September 16th debate. But regardless of who’s declared the winner that night, CNN’s announcement today of updated criteria for debate inclusion is indeed a victory for GOP voters. The new criteria better reflect the current pulse of the GOP electorate — rather than the liberal media’s own agenda and/or bias — as they darn well should.