If Saturday’s Republican debate wasn’t already a must-watch, it certainly is now. Our editor-at-large Mary Katharine Ham will join the moderator panel at the ABC News debate in New Hampshire this weekend, the RNC announced late last night:
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) February 4, 2016
Needless to say, all of us at the Salem Media Group are happy to see Mary Katharine playing an important role in representing the conservative view before the first-in-the-nation primary:
So proud of my friend & super pumped for her! Debate prep has been rigorous & fun. Looking forward to Saturday! https://t.co/oMt8mUjv0I
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 4, 2016
— Matt Vespa (@mVespa1) February 4, 2016
The debate itself has already drawn some controversy. ABC is applying a polling metric to limit the number of candidates on stage, even though only eight candidates remain in the race. Carly Fiorina will be eliminated by this metric, and she’s demanding a spot on stage now that the need for an undercard has been eliminated:
The next GOP debate will not feature an under card event for low-polling candidates, which leaves Carly Fiorina off the prime-time stage — a move she’s not taking sitting down.
The former Hewlett Packard CEO penned an open letter to Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, to plead her case for the prime-time stage this Saturday.
“In 2012, the debate stage featured 8 candidates until the Iowa Caucus and then all declared candidates still in the race were invited from that point forward, including the ABC New Hampshire debate. As of today, I will be the only candidate kept off the debate stage,” she wrote. “To review, we beat Governors Christie and Kasich in Iowa this week when voters actually had their say. This campaign has the same number of delegates as Governors Bush and Kasich while Governor Christie has zero. We’re ahead of Dr. Carson in New Hampshire polling. We are 6th in hard dollars raised and have twice the cash on hand as either Governors Christie or Kasich. We are already on the ballot in 32 states, and there is a ground game with paid staff in 12 states. Yet, all of these candidates will be invited to the ABC debate. I will not.”
Jim Gilmore won’t make it onto the stage either, but the comparison isn’t exactly fair. Fiorina has been campaigning vigorously, while Gilmore hasn’t even done much work to get on ballots, let alone seriously attempt to build support. So far ABC hasn’t budged, but it might be a little hard to explain having a metric that only pushes one candidate out of the debate, now that other marginal campaigns have shut down. Don’t be surprised to see Fiorina on stage by Saturday night, facing a couple of questions on issues important to conservatives from Mary Katharine.