CNN Puts Carly in the Box or in A Box?

The CNN GOP debates comes ever closer and thanks to the a cause celebe

More than 200 elected officials, Republican and conservative activists, and business leaders have signed a letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker requesting the cable network award Carly Fiorina a spot in the upcoming Republican presidential primary debate. Fiorina campaign staff posted the letter on Medium, with a note saying the campaign is “so grateful for their support.”

Carly Fiorina will almost certainly be in the “Main” debate:

Carly Fiorina may be getting a seat (or podium) in the next GOP primetime debate. CNN announced this afternoon they were changing the formula for the debate specifically so Fiorina could be on the stage.

“In the event that any candidate is polling in the top 10 in an average of approved national polls released between August 7th and September 10th, 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 16th and September 10th. We have discussed these changes with the Republican National Committee and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and they are fully supportive.”

The Fiorina Campaign is celebrating:

And Politico is portraying this as a victory:

CARLY FIORINA won what could be her last, best shot at staying in the 2016 race. CNN announced Tuesday it would change its rules — ensuring that anyone who polls in the top 10 since the last forum has a podium at the Sept. 16 primetime debate — after an aggressive campaign by Fiorina and her supporters to force the network’s hand.
Indeed, CNN’s decision came down just hours after the Fiorina campaign released a harsh email that Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and several prominent conservatives sent to CNN President Jeff Zucker.

But there are quite a few reasons why this move might not work out as well as her supporters think it might.

Think for a second what would have happened if Carly had stayed in the JV debate:

Carly would have been considered the “front runner” of debate #1, holding the main podium, she would have been in the enviable position where she could:

Dominate her immediate opponents

Get more time thanks to a smaller field

Target the people she is chasing in the 1st debate without worrying about a response.

Best of all an easy victory in the early debate would not only raise her standing but she would still be able to play the “fairness” card against her opponents and fundraise off of it assuring her of improved polls which would have eventually gotten her to the main stage by debate 3 or 4.

But now instead she has forced a rule change to get on the main stage which means.

The only way she will be covered in Debate #1 will be if someone refers to the changing of the rules as a “affirmative action” move.

A different round one candidate will get the chance to impress and perhaps dominate the early news coverage.

But the problems don’t end there, being in the main debate means:

1.  Thanks to 11 candidates she will have much less time to speak.

2.  She is facing a much tougher field, that she will be unable to dominate.

3.  She will have to deal with Trump or others hitting her on the HP record.

4.  Any performance less than a clear win will hurt her, and if she does poorly then the talk will be all about not getting in based on merit, but on her getting in based on the fact her first name was Carly and not Carl.

A candidate playing a 9 inning game would have been content to see more pitches in the prelim debate and win it while working slowly into the top tier wearing down the opponents ahead of her rather than swinging for the fences in the hope of getting the big game winning hit.

Now it’s certainly possible that the first debate turns out to be a dud.  It’s possible that Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal will not take advantage of the golden opportunity she has given them to stand out and shine.  It’s possible that the MSM meme for debate #1 will be how boring it was without her.

It’s also possible that she will manage to out debate Ted Cruz, out one line Mike Huckabee, out shout Chris Christie, out Constitution Rand Paul, out humble Ben Carson, Out Establishment Jeb Bush, out gay marriage John Kasich, Out union Scott Walker, Out Hispanic Rubio and Out Trump Trump and if she manages to do this, it will pay off big.

But if she doesn’t, if her performance is only average, if Trump once again dominates the debate and if none of the other candidates stumble enough to allow her to run by then the story will be about how she got the chance to be on the big stage and didn’t pull it off and the resulting flame out will drop her back in the pack so fast it will make her head swim.

I think this is the type of high risk move a campaign makes when it doesn’t have any other option and the two days of good press she will get from it simply isn’t worth it…

…unless of course her campaign is so desperate for cash and volunteers to get on ballots post New Hampshire that she couldn’t risk playing the long game.

Given that nothing in this campaign has been predictable I think I’m just going to sit back and watch how this plays out.

It won’t be boring.


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