CNN Tuesday amended its criteria for the second Republican presidential debate because it expects fewer national polls to be released by next week — creating a chance for former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina to participate in the Sept. 16 contest at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
So far, only three national polls have been released since the Aug. 6 debate in Cleveland, CNN said in a statement.
Therefore, any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between Aug. 6 and Sept. 10 now will be included in the top-tier candidates' debate.
"In the event that any candidate is polling in the top 10 in an average of approved national polls released between Aug. 7 and Sept. 10, we will add those candidates to our top-tier debate, even if those candidates did not poll in the top 10 in an average of approved national polls between July 16 and Sept. 10," CNN said. "We have discussed these changes with the Republican National Committee and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and they are fully supportive."
Fiorina's poll numbers shot up after her performance last month in the under-card forum hosted by Fox News and Facebook, and her campaign had complained that CNN's formula could exclude her from the second outing.
"It's frustrating, to say the least, if CNN is putting their thumb on the scale," Fiorina told Fox last week.
"I'm also comfortably within the top five in virtually every statewide poll that has been taken since that debate."
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed the move.
"I applaud CNN for recognizing the historic nature of this debate and fully support the network's decision to amend their criteria," Priebus said.
According to CNN, 16 polls were released between August and mid-September 2007. During the same period in 2011, 15 polls were released.
CNN based its criteria on those results.
"In May, we announced criteria for our September 16th Republican debates at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library," CNN said. "We said that we would use the average of approved national polls from July 16 through Sept. 10 to determine the makeup of the debates.
"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."
The network said it expects only two more national polls to be released by Sept. 10.
"We now believe we should adjust the criteria to ensure the next debate best reflects the most current state of the national race," CNN said.
Besides Fiorina, those making the cut if eligibility closed Tuesday include billionaire businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, retired pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
CNN will announce the debate line-ups on Sept. 10.
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