ABC: No last-minute invite for Fiorina to debate

Story highlights

  • Carly Fiorina will not be invited to Saturday night's ABC News debate, despite protests from her and fellow Republican candidates
  • Fiorina has aggressively criticized both ABC News and the RNC for engaging in a "rigged game" that ignores the will of voters in Iowa

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN)ABC News has no plans to give Carly Fiorina a last-minute invitation to Saturday night's Republican debate, despite mounting protest from her and some of her fellow candidates, according to two ABC News insiders and a Republican National Committee source.

The network announced Thursday night that Fiorina had failed to meets its criteria for the debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, making her the one major candidate still in the running to be excluded from the stage. On Friday, ABC News sources told CNN that despite the incoming criticism, they have no intention of changing their plans.
"There is little desire to revisit that conversation," one ABC News source said.
One of the network's primary justifications for that decision is that altering its criteria would be unfair to candidates who have already dropped out of the race. Rand Paul, who received more than twice as much support in the Iowa caucuses as Fiorina, dropped out of the race on Wednesday -- in part, his campaign manager Doug Stafford told reporters, because they didn't anticipate that he would be allowed into the New Hampshire debate.
Nevertheless, Fiorina has aggressively criticized both ABC News and the RNC for engaging in a "rigged game" that ignores the will of voters in Iowa -- who handed her more delegates than Chris Christie and John Kasich -- and New Hampshire.
"The voters of Iowa voted, And in the vote I beat Christie, I beat Kasich, I tied (Jeb) Bush for delegates. And yet, I'm not on the stage and they are," Fiorina said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday. "So what does that say to the voters of Iowa? And the voters of New Hampshire ought to be ticked because apparently ABC and the RNC are saying, 'No, you can't make up your mind three days before a primary. We have to take somebody off the stage who is clearly a viable candidate."
"The game is rigged, and now you see it in plain day," she said.
Both Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson have also called for Fiorina to be included in the debate, as has Steve Duprey, the chairman of the debate committee for the Republican Party and the Republican National Committeeman in New Hampshire.
That has done little to sway ABC News, which believes that there is little justification for an eleventh-hour invitation to Fiorina, even if she is the only candidate being kept off stage.
ABC News announced its criteria for Saturday night's debate in late January. That criteria stipulated that candidates needed to finish among the top three in the Iowa caucuses, among the top six in an average of New Hampshire Republican presidential polls, or among the top six candidates in an average of national Republican presidential polls in order to participate in the debate.
Fiorina failed to qualify by any of those three metrics.