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Down to 8 Candidates, Fiorina Still Forced to Sit on Sidelines during Debate

by David Yee, published

ABC's weekend debate will not feature an undercard 'warmup' debate, with all of the departures after the Iowa Caucus. But it comes at a price: not including Carly Fiorina in the debate.

Fiorina's weak four-way split of sixth place in Iowa, coupled with dismal bottom-of-the-pack numbers in recent polling made her cut inevitable in ABC's eyes.

Not all Republicans are happy with this, including candidates Dr. Ben Carson and front-runner Ted Cruz, along with former candidates and party leaders such as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Fiorina is not at all happy with the decision, demanding that the RNC change its own debate rules and allow her to continue on, citing her ground game and intention to continue.

As Donald Trump found out quickly, skipping a debate can cost you some big points as a primary comes near (among other things). If you're not on the stage, you're not in the game.

Fiorina has one, maybe two more shots in this primary cycle to prove her viability, or it is likely her backing and organizational efforts will fall apart. She may have enough cash on hand to make it to Super Tuesday, but if she doesn't get a deal-closer soon, she's in big trouble.

But two issues are really at stake--and both need to be debated.

First is the cronyism of a closed primary system, one that has had almost a run-away nature to it that the party hasn't been able to control because of the sheer number of candidates.

Second is the fact that the GOP needs a clear-cut front-runner quickly to combat the inevitability of a Sanders or Clinton matchup. The party knows in its heart of hearts that it is in desperate need of a house cleaning, and hopes that New Hampshire will create a clear-cut pack of front runners of two to three candidates.

Both of the issues are about party control of the process -- or more importantly, the party desperately trying to reclaim control over 'their' primary.

It's likely that the remaining candidates are in the race until Super Tuesday, March 1, where the final death blows will be dealt to the unviable, while a clear-cut set of front runners will be established. If this is the case, the GOP is going to have to wait about a month longer than they wanted to get their desired result, regardless of cutting loose Fiorina in this weekend's debate.

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