What Martin O’Malley and Carly Fiorina Can Agree On

AMES, Iowa—In Mid­west­ern cit­ies a three-and-a-half-hour drive from each oth­er, Carly Fior­ina and Mar­tin O’Mal­ley spent Fri­day de­cry­ing the same vil­lain: their party es­tab­lish­ment.

Here in Ames, after speak­ing to a crowd at Iowa State Uni­versity, Fior­ina ac­cused the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee and CNN of put­ting their “thumb on the scale” to keep her off the de­bate stage.

“The rules are ri­dicu­lous. It’s like say­ing to a foot­ball team that per­forms well and goes to the play­offs, ‘You can’t play in the play­off game be­cause of a pre­season game.’ It’s a stu­pid rule,” Fior­ina said. “They could change them if they wanted to. The RNC could ask them to change the rules. They could do more polls. They could count state polls.”

O’Mal­ley was even bolder than Fior­ina on Fri­day, as he leveled his com­plaints against his party at the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Con­ven­tion’s own sum­mer meet­ing in Min­neapol­is.

“Will we let the cir­cus run un­chal­lenged on every chan­nel while we cower in shad­ows un­der a de­cree of si­lence in the ranks?” O’Mal­ley asked, re­fer­ring to the nine de­bates that the Re­pub­lic­an Party has sanc­tioned for its can­did­ates. “Or will we de­mand equal time to show­case our ideas?”

“We are the Demo­crat­ic Party, not the un­demo­crat­ic party,” he ad­ded.

On Tues­day, Fior­ina’s cam­paign put out a with­er­ing state­ment against both the RNC and CNN for con­fig­ur­ing the de­bates so that polls taken be­fore her break­out per­form­ance in the so-called “happy hour” de­bate Aug. 6 out­weigh polls taken since then, in which Fior­ina’s pop­ular­ity has ris­en.

“Since when did CNN get to de­cide who Re­pub­lic­an primary voters get to hear from?” Fior­ina asked a group of re­port­ers after her talk Fri­day.

The polling data CNN will look at en­com­passes na­tion­al polls taken in the three weeks run­ning up to the first de­bate, and the five weeks fol­low­ing the de­bate.

“We be­lieve that our ap­proach is a fair and ef­fect­ive way to deal with the highest num­ber of can­did­ates we have ever en­countered,” a CNN spokes­per­son said.

Ac­cord­ing to CNN, Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion guidelines stip­u­late that they can­not change the de­bate rules after they have been made pub­lic. If that is true, the only way for Fior­ina to break onto the main stage in Den­ver on Sept. 16 is for her to out­per­form ex­pect­a­tions, and by a lot—a com­plex cal­cu­lus that the Wash­ing­ton Post‘s Philip Bump has at­temp­ted to ex­plain.

But as with any elec­tion law, things quickly get murky, and in­ter­pret­a­tions abound. Some elec­tion law ex­perts have said the law does per­mit CNN to change its cri­ter­ia.

“There is a strong leg­al ar­gu­ment that CNN can modi­fy cri­ter­ia as long as they re­main ob­ject­ive and are es­tab­lished some time pri­or to in­vit­ing can­did­ates to par­ti­cip­ate,” Jan Baran, an elec­tions law­yer, told The Hill.

In both can­did­ates’ telling, the na­tion­al com­mit­tees of the Demo­crat­ic and Re­pub­lic­an parties are act­ively rig­ging the de­bate pro­cess against them. And with all the anti­es­tab­lish­ment angst swirl­ing on both sides this elec­tion sea­son, their an­ger only helps Fior­ina and O’Mal­ley look more like in­de­pend­ent war­ri­ors with­in their parties.

Wa­ging in­tra­party battle may not have made as much sense in past cycles, but O’Mal­ley and Fior­ina have little to lose in mak­ing their re­spect­ive parties as un­com­fort­able as pos­sible. That is, un­til they have a more le­git­im­ate chance of win­ning their parties’ nom­in­a­tion.

Resource: http://www.nationaljournal.com/twentysixteen/2015/08/29/what-martin-omalley-carly-fiorina-can-agree

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