Could An All-Male Debate Hurt The GOP?

Some Republican strategists are wondering whether the all-male cast of candidates set to take the debate stage on Thursday will spoil the party's efforts to appeal to women voters.

Carly Fiorina has hosted dozens of townhall forums and meet-and-greets in early primary states since launching her presidential campaign in May. She has garnered attention in the media for her steadfast criticism of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and her status as the only female GOP candidate has given her a unique opportunity to stand out in the male-dominated field.

Nevertheless, Fiorina's inability to make headway in national polls precluded her from securing a spot in the first GOP primary debate to be held Thursday. Instead, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO will participate in a forum hours before the debate alongside other candidates who failed to make the cut.

"In an ideal world, a lot of Republicans would like to have [Fiorina] on stage," GOP strategist Ford O'Connell told the Washington Examiner."Not just because of what she represents, but because of how she talks about the issues and about Hillary Clinton."

With Fiorina absent from the debate stage, O'Connell predicts that Democrats will "try to make hay about it." He says Republicans should be prepared to respond by pointing out that the Democratic field currently has "only one female, two less Latinos and one less black candidate running."

"I don't think the book is open or closed on Fiorina just yet, but it would be more helpful to have her on that stage," O'Connell said.

"It is important to show the many different flavors of the Republican Party and she's obviously a vital wing of that," O'Connell said. "If she does well in the Thursday night [forum] and she's going to make headlines."

Read more from Gabby Morrongiello at The Washington Examiner

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