Carly Fiorina Slams CNN Debate Rules

Image: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks at the New Hampshire Education Summit in Londonderry
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks at the New Hampshire Education Summit in Londonderry, New Hampshire August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Brian SnyderBRIAN SNYDER / Reuters

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By Vaughn Hillyard

LE MARS, IOWA -- Carly Fiorina pushed back on Thursday against the requirements to make next month's main GOP presidential debate stage, saying the method in place for calculating each candidate's support “doesn’t seem fair.”

Despite rising polling numbers, Fiorina—as of now—would not make the cut for the debate stage, currently coming in at the 12th spot based on the criteria put in place by CNN, which is hosting the September 16 debate in California. The cable outlet will average national polls dating back to July 16, a time when Fiorina struggled to gain traction.

"It’s a little bit like saying if you have a lousy game in the preseason, and you play great all season long, and you make it to the playoff—you don’t get to play in the playoffs because of the preseason game,” Fiorina responded when asked by a man in the crowd how she felt about the standards. "It kind of doesn’t seem fair to me."

Since the August 6 “happy hour debate” where Fiorina gained wide praise and attention, only two additional national polls have been released—holding back Fiorina’s polling average from increasing significantly. The latest national poll—a Quinnipiac poll released on Thursday--places Fiorina in eighth place at five percent. But state-focused polling has the former Hewlett-Packard CEO performing especially better—third in New Hampshire and fifth in Iowa.

“Why you would use a bunch of polls from July to August that are only national when those tend to measure name ID?” Fiorina asked the crowd of about 100. "And I’m not a celebrity. I’m not a professional politician. Why would you do that?”

Taking a swipe at the cable outlet’s use of national polls, Fiorina added: “It seems strange that the RNC, who handed this off to Fox News and CNN, decided to pick national polls in the first place. We don’t have national primaries. We have state primaries and caucuses.”

Carrie Dann contributed.