Under pressure over the qualification rules for the next Republican Presidential debate, CNN on Tuesday changed the criteria for how major GOP candidates will be selected for that debate, which could mean as many as eleven candidates on the main stage in two weeks.
“We have discussed these changes with the Republican National Committee and the Reagan Library and they are fully supportive,” CNN announced.
The news was especially good for Carly Fiorina, who had done well in the first debate, and was hoping to graduate from the pre-debate debate to the main stage on September 16.
THANKS TO YOU, we will be able to share our message of leadership and citizenship with Republican voters on the main debate stage.
Originally, CNN was going to use an average of polls taken between mid-July and September 10; but very few national polls were done since the first debate, which would have meant polls taken before that first GOP gathering would have had an oversized impact.
“At the time, we expected there to be many more national polls following the first Republican debate, in August, than there appears there will be,” CNN explained.
So, CNN will do the following:
+ Calculate the top ten from the polls between July 16 and September 10
+ Calculate the top ten from the polls between August 7 and September 10
+ If the top ten candidates are the same, they will be on the main stage at the Reagan Library on September 16. But if the top ten lists are different, then that candidate will be added to the mix.
The decision means that if Fiorina jumps into the top ten, her ascension won’t come at the expense of anyone – Chris Christie and Rand Paul were the two slipping down toward the 10th spot in recent polls.
Eleven candidates on one stage would mean even less time for each person – and a smaller pre-debate gathering; with Jim Gilmore not invited to this debate, the first forum could have as few as four candidates, most likely Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham.