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New Hampshire GOP asks Fox to make Republican debate inclusive

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A group of more than 50 influential Republicans in New Hampshire is pushing Fox News and the Republican National Committee to expand the Republican presidential debate parameters to include more candidates.

In a letter released Wednesday to Fox News President Roger Ailes and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, former New Hampshire Govs. Craig Benson and Stephen Merrill, along with 53 other state-level lawmakers and activists, warned that limiting the debates “would stifle democracy and competition” in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

“The proposed limitations are very narrow and risk eliminating potentially viable candidates based on unreliable national polling that is rarely predictive of primary election outcomes,” the group writes. 

“Any metric used to select the top ten candidates based on public polling this early in the nominating process would make it impossible to ensure fairness,” the letter states. “Indeed, the margin between the tenth candidate and those that don’t qualify will almost certainly be statistically insignificant.”

Fox News and CNN will hold the first two Republican presidential debates beginning in August. Both networks have said they will cap the number of participants at 10 based on national polling numbers, although CNN will also hold a second debate for those who don’t make the first cut.

Republicans will be running their largest field of presidential candidates in 2016.

So far, 10 candidates have officially entered the race, but the field is expected to swell to at least 15 in the coming weeks.

Businessman Donald Trump is currently polling in the top 10, while candidates, like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2012, Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former New York Gov. George Pataki are on the outside looking in.

So is former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican field, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — who some see as a dark-horse candidate.

The New Hampshire GOP is the latest to put pressure on the media outlets and the RNC to expand the debates.

Ben Carson, who is currently in fourth place, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, has pushed for the debates to be more inclusive.
 
“Denying candidates an opportunity to showcase their talents and experience in the first televised debate would artificially distort the political process, stifle competition, and induce voters to only consider those candidates pre-selected by virtue of their name ID, rather than potential as candidates,” the letter continues.

The New Hampshire Republicans suggested dividing the debate into two back-to-back panels on the same or consecutive nights, with three top tier candidates appearing on each panel.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Carly Fiorina had been vocal in pushing for the debates to be more inclusive. She has said she intends to qualify for the debates, but has not pushed for a change to the parameters.

 

Tags 2016 Republican presidential primary Ben Carson Carly Fiorina Donald Trump Fox News Jeb Bush John Kasich Rick Santorum Ted Cruz

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