Fox News Debate Creates Fundraising Opportunity For Longshot Carly Fiorina

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is asking supporters for money to help her qualify for Fox News' August 6 debate. Fiorina's appeals further cement the conservative network's gatekeeper role in the Republican presidential primary.

Fox News announced on May 20 that its debate, the first of the presidential cycle, will only include candidates “in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls.” That criteria could mean the exclusion of Republicans like Rick Santorum, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham and Fiorina.

The Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus wrote that the debate rules make Fox a GOP primary gatekeeper. McManus added that according to Republican strategists, candidates on the qualification fringe “will be even more desperate to boost their name recognition -- by appearing on Fox News.” A Media Matters study found that in May, Fiorina made five appearances on the network.

Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson, who both worked for Fox News, would currently make the debate cutoff. 

Fiorina has recently been using the threat of being excluded from the Fox News debate to raise money for her campaign.  

Fiorina wrote in a May 21 email: “I look forward to participating in the Fox News debate. I'll make it clear that I'm ready to take on Hillary Clinton. But I need your help to get on that debate stage ... I need the resources necessary to broadcast my message to more Republicans. Will you donate $13 today to help us amplify our message?”

She wrote in a June 4 email of the Fox debate: “In order to secure an invitation, I need to grow my team of supporters. Will you make a donation of $13 today to help me get on that debate stage?”

Fiorina has one fan in debate co-moderator Chris Wallace. Reacting to his May 31 Fox News Sunday interview with Fiorina, Wallace said today on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends that he's “impressed with her.” He added: “I probably shouldn't say this, but I hope that she'll end up on the stage, although, you know, I have no say in the matter ... I think she would add to it. First of all, it'd be nice to have at least one woman on the stage and secondly, I think she's smart and very capable and comes from a different background than all the politicians. And, I think -- you know, I hope she gets it.”  

Wallace also defended the debate against unnamed candidates who have “whined about” the debate rules, stating: “What are you going to do, put 16 people on the stage?” He later said: “If you can't get three percent, you don't deserve to be on the stage.”

During a June 4 appearance on Kilmeade & Friends, Lindsey Graham asked Fox News Radio listeners to “help me” get into the debate. After Kilmeade asked Graham whether he's planning to treat the Fox News debate “like some treat Iowa ... almost as if August 6th is a date and the cutoff to be tops in those polls,” Graham said he'll “work hard to meet” the Fox criteria. He added, “but if Brad Pitt ran in the Republican primary, he'd be in the debate ... what you're testing is name ID.” Wallace also offered his support for Graham, saying “we want him to make the debate, and we want him to go after Rand Paul, because that'll be all interesting stuff.”