Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteThe Trail 2016: Meet and greet and grief Clean energy group backs two GOP incumbents Senator calls for pause in accepting Syrian refugees after Istanbul attack MORE (R-N.H.) on Thursday came to the defense of Carly Fiorina, calling for the Republican presidential candidate to be included in the next GOP debate on Saturday.
"Carly Fiorina has campaigned hard in New Hampshire to earn support from voters," Ayotte said in a statement to ABC, which is hosting the debate.
"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."
Fiorina has been pushing to get on the main debate stage after several rivals who appeared in the undercard events at previous events dropped out this week.
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO sent a letter
to the Republican National Committee on Wednesday asking for help to ensure she's on the stage and criticizing the "broken" debate process.
Saturday's debate is the first without an undercard event for low-polling candidates. Under the criteria announced by ABC, Fiorina's best shot to make the stage would need to be in the top six in recent New Hampshire polls. She's currently seventh in both the RealClearPolitics index
ABC will considering polls through Thursday before announcing the final line-up. In September, CNN amended its criteria to include Fiorina after she argued that the criteria didn't reflect her rise following a strong first debate performance.