ABC just announced who will make the stage for this Saturday night’s GOP debate — the final chance for candidates to make their pitch to voters before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primaries. And what’s more notable than who will be on the stage is who will not be.
Despite much rallying by both the candidate and many supporters — including former GOP nominee Mitt Romney and fellow 2016 candidates Ted Cruz and Ben Carson — businesswoman Carly Fiorina is being excluded from the lineup.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina did not make the cut for the ABC-hosted Republican presidential debate, set to be held Saturday.
ABC on Thursday announced seven candidates would participate in the debate: real-estate mogul Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
Despite an extensive lobbying campaign from her campaign and on her behalf, Fiorina was excluded from the lineup. Party leaders like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) urged ABC to include her onstage. Several of her presidential rivals, such as Cruz and Carson, also said she should be part of the debate field.
And Fiorina herself wrote an open letter to the Republican National Committee on Wednesday that spelled out her frustration with the process.
“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,” she wrote.
But Fiorina did not meet ABC’s qualification standards, which included placing in the top three in the Monday-night Iowa caucuses, or placing within the top-six in recent averages of national or New Hampshire polls.
In the Iowa caucuses, however, Fiorina won one delegate, tying former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and beating New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich. And, as many have pointed out since Monday, the caucuses and primaries do — and should — carry more weight than polls.
In the end, the network evidently refused to budge. In a tweet after ABC’s announcement, a spokeswoman for Fiorina’s campaign pointed out that Fiorina performed better in the Iowa caucuses than two of the “establishment’s guys,” Christie and Kasich:
— Sarah Isgur Flores (@whignewtons) February 5, 2016
Judging from the activity in Carly’s support on Twitter, I suspect she may see some fundraising boost as a result of this decision by ABC and the Republican National Committee.
As conservatives, we don’t buy into “identity politics,” so the fact that Fiorina is a woman shouldn’t play into the decision whether to include her on the stage — though it certainly doesn’t help a narrative the left loves to play that Republicans are anti-women. But what we do care about is a process that allows the American voters to get to know the candidates and choose the best man or woman for the job on their own merits — not the arbitrary decisions by a corporation or the RNC.
What do you think? Do you think Fiorina should be on the stage Saturday night, given her performance in Iowa, tying former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and beating New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich?
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]