The deputy campaign manager of Carly Fiorina's presidential effort said she feels "very confident" that CNN and the Republican National Committee will keep the former Hewlett-Packard CEO off the debate stage Sept. 16 despite her rising popularity.
"I think CNN and the RNC have made it very clear that they have every intention of doing that," staffer Sarah Isgur Flores told Bloomberg on Wednesday. "I feel very confident that they're going to do that."
Flores, a former RNC aide, also wrote in an entry on Fiorina's Medium account Wednesday that "the political establishment is still rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage next month" because CNN will use polls from before the Republican field's first debates Aug. 6 to determine who qualifies.
Fiorina's widely praised performance in a "candidate forum" that night helped propel her polling numbers, but the inclusion of the earlier polls and the paucity of more recent polls could keep the only woman in the 17-candidate Republican field from appearing on the CNN debate stage.
Fiorina added Wednesday that debate rules show why people had lost faith in the media and the RNC. "I didn't think the Fox News rules were particularly good, using national polls," she said on Morning Joe. "I don't think the CNN rules are particularly good."
A RealClearPolitics poll average puts Fiorina at seventh in the field, although she polls as high as second in some smaller state polls.
"I am a little surprised that the RNC and CNN feel quite so strongly to keep her off the stage yet again," Flores said Wednesday. "I'm upset because this is ridiculous."
A CNN spokeswoman wrote in an emailed statement that "Federal Election Commission guidelines make it clear that these criteria cannot be changed after they have been published. We believe that our approach is a fair and effective way to deal with the highest number of candidates we have ever encountered."
A RNC spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.