Presidential candidate and US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is furious about Fox News’ rules for the first GOP primary debate.
In a Fox News interview on Friday, Graham blasted the right-leaning network’s “dumb” rules, which will limit the participants to 10 candidates polling the best in an average of the five most recent national polls.
“I think that this is a dumb way to weed out the field,” Graham declared.
Many critics say the August 6 debate’s rules harm the candidates campaigning in the early-voting states and elevate those who have been getting those most national TV exposure or who have run for president before.
With around 17 Republican candidates running, there will be a number of furious White House hopefuls left out of the crucial opportunity to be heard before a major television audience. Graham, who is lagging in national polls, clearly agrees with that assessment. He argued that July of 2015 is too early to even pay attention to polls.
“Brad Pitt would be in the debate in August. Anybody with any celebrity would be in the debate,” he said. “I don’t mind weeding out the field over time.”
“It’s July for God’s sakes!” he added. “So a national poll is a lousy way, in my view, to determine who should be on the stage. And I quite frankly resent it.”
Asked if he would like to “name some names,” Graham directly said Fox News and the Republican National Committee, which partnered with networks to schedule the primary debates.
Graham further stressed that he wasn’t just angry at the rules on his own behalf. He repeatedly said Fox’s poll-driven process is “destroying” the opportunity for all of the scrappy, underfunded candidates to win over voters in the small early primary states.
“It’s not about me,” he said. “Under this construct, nobody really cares about coming Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina any more. It’s almost about money. And what you’re going to reward, over time, is the people with the most money. And you’re destroying the early-primary process. And I think that’s bad for the Republican Party.”
Fox host Bill Hemmer replied: “Wow.”
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