BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's presidential campaign Tuesday panned the criteria being used to whittle down the candidate list for the next Republican debate, saying it shouldn't ignore the importance of early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire.
Without a change in criteria, Jindal appears again headed for the undercard debate, rather than the main stage, for the CNBC event Oct. 28.
The governor's campaign wants the network and the Republican National Committee to use polling data from Iowa and New Hampshire to determine which of the long list of GOP contenders reach the prime time debate, rather than focusing exclusively on national polling.
"We're arguing that the voters are the ones who should decide this election and the voters will first speak in Iowa and New Hampshire," said Jindal campaign senior strategist Curt Anderson. "We don't have a national primary."
Under the criteria announced last month, the network said candidates must poll at an average of least 3 percent from a list of approved national polls to qualify for the prime time debate.
While Jindal barely registers any support in recent national polls, he's performing better in Iowa, where he's focused nearly all his campaign effort.
Iowa and New Hampshire have an outsized influence on the race, Anderson said, noting that for decades every Republican presidential nominee has come in first place in one of those two states.
Jindal has been blocked from the last two prime time GOP debates, and his campaign acknowledges inability to participate on the main stage can damage the governor's long-term chances at reaching the nomination.
By ignoring the influence of early voting states, the Republican National Committee and CNBC "are actively shaping who will win and who will lose," said Jindal campaign manager Timmy Teepell.
Debate hosts set the criteria for who participates, in consultation with Republican officials, and can change the rules even after they are announced, as they did last month to let Carly Fiorina join the main stage. Criteria have not been set for debates starting in November.