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Johnson may have made GOP debate cut
It appears that former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson will be among the 2012 GOP hopefuls that have met the polling threshold needed to qualify for an upcoming debate. Political strategist Fred Karger, however, is continuing to petition Fox News for a chance behind a lectern.
The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz reported Tuesday that Johnson will be among those assembled on stage:
The former New Mexico governor won the right to participate, according to Fox sources, by cracking 1 percent in the latest five national polls in which he was included — Fox News, CNN, McClatchy-Marist, ABC, and Quinnipiac — which was the criterion the network had set for inclusion.
Talking Points Memo noted that Johnson has yet to receive final notification that he will participate in the debate, though he told TPM, “It would be good news if we get it.”
Johnson is a self-identified libertarian who differentiates himself from U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the more popular of the libertarian GOP candidates, with his support for abortion rights and his opposition to the construction of a border fence. Johnson attended one other GOP debate, where he was asked about his support for marijuana legalization and discussed his initial opposition to the war in Iraq.
According to Politico, Johnson’s inclusion in the debate came over the objection of the Florida Republican Party, which has excluded him from Saturday’s Florida straw poll.
If he does indeed receive a debate invitation, Johnson will have temporarily left the ranks of presidential candidates who have been deemed to have too little support to gain the valuable national airtime of a debate. These candidates include former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and Karger, who pleaded his case in letter to debate organizers.
“Gentlemen: Great News! I have now achieved an average of 1 percent in seven national polls, and I am writing to request my invitation to the Fox News, Republican Party of Florida and YouTube debate on Thursday, Sept. 22,” begins the letter from Karger. He adds that he believes he met the 1 percent threshold prior to the debate held in Ames, and reminds those receiving the letter that he filed a 158-page complaint with the Federal Election Commission as a result of his exclusion.
“I asked the FEC to expedite their investigation so that I could be included in this weeks debate, but have not been notified of their findings. So in the interest of fairness, and with more polling information (see below), I trust that the organizers of Thursdays debate will allow me a spot on that stage,” he states.
Karger cites the following polls as listing him with 1 percent or greater: Fox News (April 28), Zogby (May 23), Zogby (July 25), Harris (2 percent, Aug. 4), Synovate (Aug. 8) and GFK (Aug. 26). The campaign also notes that he received less than one percent in a McClatchy-Marist poll on Aug. 10.
If the debate stage once again eludes Karger, he still plans to grab a bit of the spotlight by airing a 30-second commercial spot in the Orlando market.
“I want to be in the GOP Debate Thursday night in Orlando to talk about my ideas to turn this country around, but if Fox News won’t let me join my fellow candidates for President once again, we will be there via a 30 second commercial,” said Karger. “We will run our latest spot, ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’ during the debate throughout the Orlando market. In the commercial, I take on the world’s largest oil company Exxon Mobil and its CEO, Rex Tillerson in order to bring down gas prices.”
A copy of the ad is embedded below:
(Lynda Waddington contributed to this report.)