Last week Fox News announced rules for its August 6, 2015 GOP primary debate, the first debate of the 2016 cycle. CNN did the same for its September 16 debate. Currently, the Republican field sits at nearly two dozen potential candidates. Fox's rules allow for 10 to be on-stage. CNN allows for two groups to debate with 10 frontrunners on stage and a second group of less popular contenders invited to participate in a another forum. Getting into the top 10 on-stage will be determined by averages of public opinion polling. You can learn more about the rules and what they mean for the 2016 field here.
The rules announcement and requirement of relevant poll numbers didn't sit well with potential 2016 candidate and 2012 presidential primary loser Rick Santorum.
"I'm probably the best person to comment on this. In January of 2012 I was at 4 percent in the national polls, and I won the Iowa caucuses. I don't know if I was last in the polls, but I was pretty close to last," Santorum said. "And so the idea that a national poll has any relationship to the viability of a candidate—ask Rudy Giuliani that. Ask Phil Gramm that. You can go on down the list of folks who were doing real well in national polls and didn't win a single state and were not a viable candidate."
"If you're a United States senator, if you're a governor, if you're a woman who ran a Fortune 500 company, and you're running a legitimate campaign for president, then you should have a right to be on stage with everybody else," Santorum said. "So the idea that we're going to arbitrarily—and it's arbitrary, someone at 1.15 is in, someone at 1.14 is out—that to me is not a rational way."
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina took a different approach, without the whining, and is stepping up to the challenge to get on stage in the top 10. Fiorina announced to supporters last week that she accepts the rules and looks forward to complying with them.
"Friend, Fox News just announced how they will select participants for the first debate. I’ll skip straight to the point: I look forward to participating in the Fox News debate. I’ll make it clear that I’m ready to take on Hillary Clinton," Fiorina sent in an email to supporters. "But I need your help to get on that debate stage. In order to secure an invitation, I need to grow my team of supporters. You already know I’m working hard -- in Iowa and New Hampshire, and all across the country. But this is going to take more than hard work. The career politicians have a big head start. I need the resources necessary to broadcast my message to more Republicans."
Glad @FoxNews released metrics for 1st debate. I'll look forward to making the cut and making my case to GOP voters on Aug 6th.— Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) May 21, 2015
Over the weekend Santorum, Fiorina and a number of other potential candidates participated in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who hasn't officaly declared his candidacy yet, seems to have come out on top.