Pressure intensifies on ABC to include Carly Fiorina in debate


More people are coming to Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s defense over her exclusion from Saturday’s Republican debate in New Hampshire. The debate is hosted by ABC News and will be the last time for voters in New Hampshire to see the candidates square off before that state’s primary on Tuesday.

Fiorina is the only remaining Republican candidate who registers in the polls that is not invited to the debate because she doesn’t meet the criteria set by ABC News.

RELATED: Carly Fiorina: ‘I am a viable candidate’

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO has attracted sympathy from high profile Republicans, including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who said, “ABC News’ decision to exclude her from Saturday’s debate on the eve of our primary, while she is outperforming one of the other debate participants in New Hampshire polls, undermines our role in the primary process, and I urge ABC to allow Ms. Fiorina to participate.”

Fiorina is the only woman running in the Republican field, prompting a tweet by 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Fiorina met with Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus Thursday, following up on a letter she sent Monday to the RNC urging them to press ABC to let her debate.

“There are only 8 candidates left. It’s time for the RNC to demand that media executives step aside and let voters hear from all of us,” Fiorina wrote. “I trust you will act appropriately.”

Fiorina outperformed several candidates who will be on the stage in the Iowa caucuses. She won one delegate in Iowa, meaning she is tied in the delegate race with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and beating New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

MSNBC Live with Kate Snow, 2/4/16, 1:16 PM ET

Fiorina: ‘I’ve outlasted 7 candidates’

GOP candidate Carly Fiorina responds to Mitt Romney’s tweet calling for her to be on the Republican debate stage on Saturday.

“It just seems odd to me that someone who is polling above people on that stage, someone who has more cash on hand than people on that stage, someone who has a better ground game than people on that stage, someone who’s on more ballots than people on that stage … it seems odd … that I’m the only person being excluded,” Fiorina said on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily” on Monday.

Fiorina has toggled between the main debate stage and the undercard depending upon how she was doing in the polls and the criteria set for the event.

There is no undercard debate this time, and three of the lowest performing candidates dropped out of the race this week, leaving just eight major competitors.

She also started a petition to persuade the network and the RNC to allow her to debate.

“The media and political class are trying to keep me from debating on Saturday night — even though I beat their candidates in Iowa and am outpolling them in New Hampshire,” the petition reads.

It’s also a mechanism for her campaign to collect names and email addresses for fundraising and outreach.

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Carly Fiorina and Debates

Pressure intensifies on ABC to include Carly Fiorina in debate