– When Carly Fiorina found herself relegated to the so-called undercard stage for the first Republican primary debate this month, she seized the opportunity to stand out. She delivered a forceful performance that catapulted her into the national spotlight and generated a bounce in public polls.

But Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive, wants to be on the main stage at the second Republican debate next month. And she is waging a public war with both CNN, which is hosting the debate, and the Republican National Committee, which her campaign accused on Wednesday of “rigging the game” to keep her out of the prime-time event.

CNN, which released its debate criteria in May, is planning to use an average of public polls dating to mid-July to determine which 10 candidates will appear in the main debate.

Because that calculation would include many surveys that were done before the first debate it would not fully capture her gains in recent polls, some of which show her near the top of the Republican field.

Recognizing that Fiorina may be excluded from the prime-time debate, costing her crucial exposure and dampening fundraising efforts, her campaign has sought to turn the likely snub into a public relations victory. “Let’s forget that I’m a woman,” said Fiorina, who is the only female Republican candidate. “I’m in the top five in every state poll and the top 10 in national polls. So what does that say about CNN and the RNC?”

Both CNN and the Republican National Committee have said that since the rules for the debate were released months ago, all the candidates knew the ground rules, and it would be illegal to change them now.

New York Times