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Johnson camp questions debate exclusion
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson isn’t one of eight GOP candidates confirmed for a Sept. 7 debate at the Reagan Library and, citing recent poll numbers, his campaign is asking why.
“If the Reagan Library doesn’t have room for Gary Johnson at next week’s debate, maybe they need a bigger stage,” said Ron Nielson, senior advisor for Johnson’s campaign.
Nielson cites the Aug. 29 CNN/ORC Poll (PDF) that places Johnson at 2 percent — a percentage above former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, both of whom are expected to participate. In addition, Atlanta businessman Herman Cain also drew 2 percent in the poll, and he has also been invited to participate.
Also of note is the fact that the three invited participants have historically performed better in the same poll. For instance, Cain has gone from 6 percent in July and 4 percent in early August to his present 2 percent. Santorum previously garnered 2 percent, but has fallen to 1 percent. Of the four, Johnson, who did not garner 1 percent in earlier polling, the the only one trending upward.
“If Governor Johnson’s exclusion is because there isn’t enough room or not enough microphones, just let us know and we will be happy to bring our own,” Nielson said. “Even if the national elite media doesn’t want to hear his ideas for balancing the budget now, cutting defense spending, or keeping the government out of so-called social issues, just tell us. But, do not try to justify his exclusion by saying he should have registered at 4 percent in a poll several months ago instead of 3 percent. That excuse just doesn’t fly, especially when the result is to muzzle a successful two-term governor who is doing just as well in recent polls as others who are invited.
“Our supporters, numerous commentators, even Neil Cavuto on Fox Business, are all questioning Governor Johnson’s exclusion, and for good reason. In fact, one commentator is even referring to a ‘Gary Johnson Rule,’ meaning criteria that seems designed to keep Gary Johnson off the Presidential debate stage.”
The debate, which is being co-sponsored by NBC News and The Politico, will take place in Simi Valley, Calif. In addition to the three candidates mentioned above, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich are expected to participate.