We wrote last week on the conundrum that the Republican Party and debate organizers face with such a large Republican primary field for president. Well the rules on who may enter the first two primary debates hosted by Fox News and CNN are out and it doesn't look good if you're not in the top 10 in polling. The first debate will take place on August 6 on Fox News. Admission criteria is that you must have cracked the top 10, as determined by the average of the five most recent national polls. If there is a tie, Fox News will examine the "granular data" and determine who is ahead. If it's an absolute tie, they will add a podium.
The second debate, which is scheduled to take place on September 16 on CNN, has even stricter rules. The first 10 candidates ranked from highest to lowest in polling order from an average of all qualifying polls between July 16 and September 10 will be invited to the main debate. Those who achieve the aforementioned criteria but fall outside the top 10 and average at least one percent in three national polls will be invited to participate in a secondary debate on the same day. If the debates were held today using the different sets of criteria it would mean that Governor John Kasich (OH), former CEO Carly Fiorina, Governor Bobby Jindal (LA) and Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) would not make the cut, but would qualify for the consolation CNN debate.
Meanwhile, the Iowa Straw Poll just got another kick to the face while down. The 2008 Iowa Caucus winner and 2016 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee and former Governor Jeb Bush (FL) have announced they will not participate in the traditional ritual for Republican presidential candidates. So far the only concrete commitment is from entrepreneur Donald Trump who said he would participate if he decides to run for president. With no candidates jumping in to participate in the fundraising ritual, it's pretty safe to say the importance of the poll in the horse race is officially dead.
Turning our attention to Congress, a scandal is brewing in New Hampshire that could hurt the Republican Party's chances in retaining House and Senate seats. Representative Frank Guinta was found to have violated the Federal Election Commission campaign finance rules by accepting more than $350,000 in illegal contributions. He has been ordered to pay back the funds along with a $15,000 fine. Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte (NH) has called for him to step down. Many feel Guinta is a distraction the party in New Hampshire doesn’t need, given the state’s crucial role in the presidential primary process. Guinta’s problems could also be a hindrance to Ayotte’s personal chances of retaining her seat in 2016, given the state’s purple makeup. So far the National Republican Congressional Committee is standing by Guinta and he has not given any indication that he will step down. Democrats are salivating at the prospect of facing off against Guinta who represents a swing district won by President Obama twice.
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