Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina didn’t take the debate stage Saturday with her Republican rivals. Instead, she and her husband Frank had a date night and a movie in Room 306 of their New Hampshire hotel, according to her campaign.
But she didn’t fail to make the debate stage from a lack of trying. She petitioned the Republican National Committee and ABC multiple times, arguing that she beat New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in Iowa voting, has the same number of delegates as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and has more money on hand that Christie and Kasich combined. And yet, Bush, Christie and Kasich were all on stage Saturday night.
Why? Because Fiorina didn’t rate high enough in state and national polls—she’s at less than 5% in almost all surveys—the criteria to get on the stage.
Fiorina organized an all star team of advocated to lobby on her behalf: New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, rival candidate Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, former Speaker New Gingrich and many more. ABC and the national party were unswayed.
The Fiorina campaign then tried to take out an advertisement on ABC during the debate. ABC refused. CBS happily bought it, though, and it’s slated to run in New Hampshire during Sunday’s Superbowl.
And still, Fiorina wasn’t allowed in.
Finally, Fiorina’s campaign made a video mocking the “Anybody But Carly Network,” “all part of our Mickey Mouse operation,” the narrator says.
Why is Fiorina so adamant to get onstage? Because after winning just 1.8% of the vote in Iowa and polling at less than 4% in New Hampshire, this debate could be her last best chance to break out. Fiorina’s spikes of support and attention all came after great debate performances, though she’s yet to catch on otherwise. Fiorina has said she plans to go all the way to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July.
Given how much she’s been pushing the lines of coordination between her campaign and super PAC, she might just have enough money to do that. But all that may get her is a reputation for being a campaign finance trailblazer, discovering new ways to use unlimited donations to support a presidential campaign. That’s not exactly the way she’d like her candidacy to be remembered.