Carly Fiorina at a campaign event on Wednesday at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire. She blames media bias for keeping her off the debate stage. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina harshly criticized the political system as rigged after she was cut from Saturday night’s debate.
Despite outperforming Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Iowa, Fiorina will be the only major candidate not onstage in Manchester, N.H. — something the former Hewlett-Packard CEO clearly took issue with.
“I’ve been telling you the game is rigged. And here’s even more proof: The people of Iowa voted in an election this week, and I beat the establishment’s guys,” she said in a statement on her Facebook page Friday. “Tens of thousands of you stood with us yesterday to demand a fair debate. But Disney’s ABC and the RNC have decided to keep me off the debate stage this weekend, caving to pressure from the same establishment candidates we beat who are afraid to debate me.”
To qualify for the debate, candidates had to place in the top three in Iowa or in the top six on average in recent New Hampshire or national polls. The network, which is not hosting an undercard debate, revealed its final lineup on Thursday: Kasich, Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and retired doctor Ben Carson.
“This isn’t about me. It’s about you. It’s about the people of New Hampshire who are about to vote,” Fiorina continued. “This is emblematic of the power that is being taken away from you every day — by the political class, the media establishment, and the bureaucracy. They don’t want your votes to count. They don’t want your voice to be heard. The network of George Stephanopoulos wants to tell you to sit down and shut up and elect Hillary Clinton.”
Fiorina autographs a copy of her book during a campaign event. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)
The reference to ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos is undoubtedly meant to evoke his failure to disclose contributions to the Clinton Foundation in recent years. Many viewers saw a conflict of interest because he had been reporting on the Clintons and their foundation without mentioning his support.
According to Fiorina, keeping her off the debate stage is just the latest example of media bias for establishment candidates.
“Well, guess what? ABC and the RNC and other candidates may keep me off that stage. But I will not be silenced. Our government is broken, and we know the establishment isn’t going to fix it. It’s time to stand together and say we won’t back down.”
Major Republican figures spoke out against Fiorina’s exclusion from the debate. She thanked rival Cruz for “standing for the fair debate the American people deserve.”
“Hey @ABC: put @CarlyFiorina on the debate stage! She got more Iowa votes than John and Chris. Don’t exclude only woman,” former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney tweeted.
“.@ABC should put @CarlyFiorina in the new hampshire debate. she came in ahead of kasich and christie. She has earned a spot,” tweeted former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
In Iowa, Fiorina also finished ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Both candidates ended their campaigns this week after their lackluster results.
“World News Tonight” anchor David Muir and “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz will moderate Saturday’s debate. Stephanopoulos will lead pre-debate coverage.