CARLY FIORINA: Will This Move Keep Her from the Main Stage Again?

Published on August 30, 2015

by Leonora Cravotta
Clash Daily Contributor

It looks like Carly Fiorina will once again be shut out of the main stage for the upcoming CNN Republican 2016 candidate debate scheduled for September 16.  Ms. Fiorina was previously excluded from the “top candidate” event for the Fox News August 6 Republican debate because at the time she was ranked #14 in the polls and the main stage debate was limited to the top ten candidates.

Being relegated to the “children’s table” actually helped the former Hewlett-Packard CEO as most post-debate surveys declared her as the Tier 2 debate winner. Following the debate, the interest in Carly Fiorina grew exponentially with her leapfrogging to 7th position with 6% of the vote.  Fiorina, who assumed that she was a shoe-in for the “A Team” stage for CNN’s event, received a rude awakening when she learned that CNN’s selection criteria is based on the top ten candidates from “an average of  qualifying polls released between July 16 and September 10”.  Ms. Fiorina’s campaign team argues that this selection criteria strategy is unfair because it gives disproportionate weight to voting data from July when Candidate Fiorina was polling near the bottom of the GOP pack.

Ms. Fiorina has decided not take these guidelines lying down. She has publicly called upon the Republican National Committee to pressure CNN to change their Tier 1 selection criteria. “Despite being solidly in the top 10 by every measure, the political establishment is still rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage next month,” wrote Fiorina deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur Flores. “If the RNC won’t tell CNN to treat post-debate polling consistently with pre-debate polling, they are putting their thumb on the scale and choosing to favor candidates with higher polling for three weeks in July over candidates with measurable momentum in August and September.”

The Fiorina camp has also come out against CNN, protesting the use of national polls instead of early primary state surveys to select debate participants.

Both the RNC and CNN take issue with Fiorina’s comments.  For their part, The RNC claims that CNN is responsible for setting the debate participant selection criteria.  And CNN states that as the selection criteria was communicated months ago, there clearly is no bias against Ms. Fiorina.

Is Fiorina making a big mistake by literally accusing the RNC of favoritism? She could be potentially making enemies within the organization which could be critical to her campaign down the road.  Moreover, by complaining about CNN’s previously communicated criteria, Fiorina runs an even bigger risk. She risks the possibility of being branded the whining complaining woman — the little girl who can’t play with the big boys.  And of course the media will have a field day with that image.

On the campaign trail, Fiorina frequently speaks about the difference between managers and leaders. Managers manage the status quo and leaders are transformative. Furthermore, great leaders acknowledge that leadership involves selectively choosing battles and not burning bridges. Wouldn’t Fiorina be better off if she just once again focused her efforts on preparing for the Tier 2 debate?

Perhaps, Carly Fiorina will once again emerge the shining star and be rewarded for her stellar performance with another jump in the polls.


leonora cravottaLeonora Cravotta is the lead writer/editor for; and the Co-Host for the Scott Adams Show, a political radio talk show. Her professional background includes over fifteen years in corporate and nonprofit marketing. She holds a B.A. in English and French from Denison University, an M.A. in English from University of Kentucky and an M.B.A. from Fordham University. The Scott Adams show is available on, Red State Talk Radio, iTunes, Tune-In, Spreaker, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

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