- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 16, 2015

GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson demanded fellow candidate Carly Fiorina be allowed in the upcoming primary debates the Republican Party is sponsoring, saying it would be embarrassing for her to be left off.

Analysts have said Republicans will have to find a way to include Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, and Ms. Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, who are respectively the only black and female candidates in the field. That could be a problem, however, because Ms. Fiorina runs well back in the polls, and Mr. Carson is in the middle of the pack, and including them would probably mean having to include more than a dozen candidates.

“Limiting participation of qualified candidates on this reasoning, I believe, does our party a tremendous disservice,” Mr. Carson wrote to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

“I am particularly concerned with widespread speculation that my respected and well-qualified colleague, Ms. Carly Fiorina, may fall victim to those who want to limit debate participation to the more ‘popular’ candidates, and I am serving notice herein, that I could not support such a decision,” Mr. Carson said.

After a 2012 campaign that saw endless debates, leaving eventual nominee Mitt Romney dented, GOP leaders vowed to gain a tighter grip on things this time around.

Mr. Priebus announced a series of sanctioned debates, with the first one slated for Aug. 6 in Cleveland.

The RNC, however, has yet to come up with the criteria for earning a place on stage. In the past, candidates have had to have a certain level of support in either national polls or surveys in earlier primary or caucus states.

According to current polls three months out, Mr. Carson would qualify easily. But Ms. Fiorina would have a tougher time, polling in the low single digits.

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