New Hampshire GOP wants more candidates in first 2016 debate
The first 2016 Republican primary debate will take place on August 6, 2015, from Cleveland, Ohio. The event is being hosted by the Fox News Channel and the guidelines for participation have come under attack from several high-level officials within the New Hampshire Republican Party.
Report from the Huffington Post:
A slew of current and former members of the New Hampshire Republican Party, unhappy with the criteria and format of the Aug. 6 GOP presidential primary debate, sent out a letter Wednesday urging the debate’s host, Fox News, to change course so as to present a more inclusive and diverse field to its national audience.
In a strongly worded open letter addressed to Roger Ailes, the network’s chairman, and Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, the party members expressed concern that the network’s approach to the debate — limiting the number of participants to 10, and choosing them based on who ranks highest in an average of various national polls — is “unnecessarily narrow and risks eliminating potentially viable candidates based on unreliable national polling that is rarely predictive of primary election outcomes.”
“The first televised debate of the 2016 election cycle should place all candidates on even footing and allow each to make their case directly to the voters and your viewers. Anything less would prematurely suppress the candidate field, and arbitrarily elevate candidates who benefit from preliminary notoriety and fundraising,” write the letter’s signatories — a group that includes New Hampshire Executive Councilor Chris Sununu and former New Hampshire Governors Craig Benson and Stephen Merrill.
The large 2016 Republican field, expected to balloon to as many as 15 candidates by the end of this summer, poses logistical problems for the party. Providing enough space and time on a debate stage for each candidate would be extremely difficult. But limiting the field to just 10 people could have a devastating effect on the handful of candidates who don’t make the cut. What could prove especially embarrassing for the party is if the only woman in the field, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, fails to make it into the top 10.
Fox has received criticism from candidates who also feel the limit to ten debate spots is arbitrary and only favorable to candidates who start out with strong name recognition. Furthermore, the use of national primary polls, which are often wrong when compared to state-level polling, also gives an advantage to better-known candidates.
If there is enough criticism, it could be possible that Fox News expands the debate to twelve spots, but they have argued that the more candidates are included, the worse the experience will be for the audience wishing to learn more about each person. Furthermore, I wouldn’t be surprised if they take no action and stick with the initial rules. Only time we’ll tell and look toward the end of July when we can start getting a handle on which ten candidates make the cut.