Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson “did not make the cutoff” and didn’t deserve to be in Monday night’s Republican presidential primary election debate in New Hampshire, according to the editorial page editor of the The Union Leader in Manchester.
Drew Cline, in a response to readers who had complained about Johnson’s absence in the debate on CNN, wrote Monday that Johnson didn’t meet the minimum requirement of receiving 2 percent of support in two national or New Hampshire polls in the month of May.
“All those who were on the stage did, and that includes Herman Cain, who did what Johnson didn’t: He earned his way in,” Cline wrote.
The Union Leader was a sponsor of the debate, along with CNN and other New Hampshire organizations. Cline said that the newspaper didn’t have input on the requirements, however.
Officials with Johnson’s campaign said they met the requirements before the debate, citing three national polls in May that they claimed put Johnson at an average of 2 percent.
The polls, however, showed that Johnson met the 2 percent threshold in one of the three surveys. He did make 2 percent in two polls after other potential candidates, such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, were eliminated from the survey options.
Johnson’s senior adviser, Ron Nielson, in a letter to CNN last week, criticized the requirements for inclusion in the debate. Nielson said other future presidents had polled just as low early in the campaigns and would not have gone on to win without an opportunity to be heard by the American public.
“The idea that inclusion – or exclusion – from a critical debate in a critical state will be based entirely upon polling arithmetic, seven months before a single vote is cast, is not only absurd, but counter-intuitive to the very purpose of a debate,” Nielson wrote.
Cline addressed that logic, as well, writing that Cain and Johnson both had their time to shine nationally in the South Carolina debate on Fox News last month.
“Cain gained a ton of attention there and afterwards he took off. … The same cannot be said for Johnson, who had the same opportunities Cain did, but couldn’t capitalize on them,” Cline wrote.
Leaping the field: Monday’s Republican debate featured a series of candidates who all appeared to all be debating President Barack Obama as opposed to one another.
Johnson, who was excluded from the New Hampshire debate, took the fantasy to another level June 9, participating in a debate with an actor playing Obama on Fox News.
Appearing on John Stossel’s Fox Business show, Johnson responded to short quotes taken from previous Obama speeches. Johnson’s responses included beating his head against the podium in a reaction to an Obama quote on a higher tax rate for higher-income Americans. He later criticized the government for making the recession worse.
“There is a day of reckoning. There is a fire sale, and you end up with a steep decline and a recovery that begins immediately. That’s the free market,” Johnson said, addressing what he said is a natural reaction to a burst bubble in the economy. He added that major banks and automotive companies like GM “should have been allowed to fail.”