Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, lent his voice to Carly Fiorina in her quest to be included in Saturday night's Republican debate moderated ABC News.
ABC News announced last week that its Manchester, New Hampshire debate will not feature an undercard stage, the first of the GOP forums to exclude one.
Instead, candidates can qualify for the debate stage if they meet one of three requirements: finishing in the top three by popular vote in the Iowa caucuses, placing in the top six in an average of New Hampshire polls recognized by ABC News, or polling in the top six in an average of national GOP polls deemed valid by the network.
Those criteria will leave Fiorina and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore off the debate stage Saturday. On Wednesday, Fiorina wrote to the Republican National Committee (RNC) demanding a spot on the stage. Her main argument: She performed better during the first official contest in Iowa than some of the candidates who will be on stage.
"We beat Governors Christie and Kasich in Iowa this week when voters actually had their say," she said in the letter.
With just two percent of the vote, Fiorina finished sixth in Iowa, in a virtual four-way tie with rivals Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. She eked out a small victory over her closest opponent -- Kasich -- by just 11 votes. Fiorina ended the caucus night with just one state delegate.
"This campaign has the same number of delegates as Governors Bush and Kasich while Governor Christie has zero," she continued. "We're ahead of Dr. Carson in New Hampshire polling. We are 6th in hard dollars raised and have twice the cash on hand as either Governors Christie or Kasich. We are already on the ballot in 32 states, and there is a ground game with paid staff in 12 states."
In an interview on MSNBC Thursday, Fiorina said, "I'm a more viable candidate than a lot of the guys on that stage so they need to put me on it."
She also got help from New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who released a statement calling on ABC to let Fiorina in the debate.
"Carly Fiorina has campaigned hard in New Hampshire to earn support from voters," she said. "ABC News' decision to exclude her from Saturday's debate on the eve of our primary while she is outperforming one of the other debate participants in New Hampshire polls, undermines our roll in the primary process."
On Thursday, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote a column for the Washington Post entitled, "Carly Fiorina is reduced to playing the gender card."
"Fiorina is now undercutting her message, namely that Clinton's gender is no reason to elect her president," Rubin wrote, noting that Fiorina had criticized ABC for choosing to exclude "the only woman" in the race. "The same is true of Fiorina."
In the MSNBC interview, Fiorina said she wasn't.
"The truth is I am a more viable candidate than several people on that stage," she said. "I just happen to be a woman. Sorry, I can't help that."