With an unusually crowded field of candidates vying for the 2016 nomination, Fox News has proposed limiting participation in debates to only the top ten based on national polls. Last Wednesday, 56 New Hampshire Republicans wrote to Fox News and the Republican National Committee with concerns that the Fox News standard would have an undue influence on the selection of the party’s nominee and would undercut New Hampshire voters in their role as first-in-the-nation assessors of the full candidate field.
The New Hampshire Union Leader, the state’s largest newspaper, seconded the argument and announced an all-inclusive candidates forum to be held on the same day as the first Fox News debate. “Fox boasts that it will ‘winnow’ the field of candidates before New Hampshire gets to do so. That isn’t just bad for New Hampshire, it’s bad for the presidential selection process by limiting the field to only the best-known few with the biggest bankrolls,” said Union Leader publisher Joseph McQuaid.
Now a group of South Carolina Republicans have written a similar letter with similar concerns:
“We are writing to add our voices to other Republican leaders who are concerned that your proposed qualifying criteria for the Republican presidential debate undercuts the historic role of South Carolina and other early states in the nominating process and also has the effect of denying all credible candidates an opportunity to have their voices heard on an equal basis at the beginning of the process.”
Fox News has since offered to host a secondary forum for candidates who don’t make the cut for the prime time debate, but as the South Carolina letter indicates, that has not been received as an acceptable solution.
We’ll continue to report on Republican efforts to keep its process fair and democratic through the primary season. Below, the letters from New Hampshire and South Carolina Republicans.