Well, actually, Gary Johnson is tied with Tim Pawlenty in terms of gubernatorial experience, but T-Paw never ran a business.
CNN, WMUR, and the New Hampshire Union Leader will host a presidential debate on Monday, June 13th in Manchester. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul will participate. In addition, unannounced candidates Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum will also take part.
Gary Johnson, however, will not participate. Why? Because he wasn’t invited.
This morning, we learned along with the rest of world that CNN and the other debate sponsors have decided to exclude Governor Johnson from sharing your voice in the debate.
Rick Santorum has since announced he is running, but given this decision was made prior to that announcement it’s a moot point and Johnson’s argument still stands just as strongly: Candidates who have not announced should not be allowed to participate in the debate. If that isn’t enough to enrage you, CNN, by its own admission, invited six other non-candidates to participate:
Invitations were extended to the seven Republicans who will appear on stage in New Hampshire as well as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and businessman Donald Trump.
Trump, Daniels, and Huckabee have all announced they are not running for president. How would CNN have felt had one or more of those three actually participated in the debate only to announce afterward their intention to sit out the 2012 race, while not allowing Gary Johnson, who was only second to Fred Karger in announcing his candidacy, to participate?
CNN lists the following criteria for admission to the debate:
A candidate must have received an average of at least 2.00 % in at least three national polls released between April 1 and April 30 that were conducted by the following: ABC, AP, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, FOX, Gallup, Los Angeles Times, Marist, McClatchy, NBC, Newsweek, Pew, Quinnipiac, Reuters, USA Today and Time.
2. A candidate must have received an average of at least 2.00 % in at least three national polls released between May 1 and May 31 that were conducted by the following: ABC, AP, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, FOX, Gallup, Los Angeles Times, Marist, McClatchy, NBC, Newsweek, Pew, Quinnipiac, Reuters, USA Today and Time.
3. A candidate must have received an average of at least 2.00 % in polls of New Hampshire voters conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center released between May 1 and May 31.
How about this for criteria: Gary Johnson started his own business in 1976 and grew it into a multi-million dollar corporation (without filing bankruptcy, mind you) from the ground up (unlike Romney and Cain who took over as CEOs well into the companies’ life-span). That puts him well ahead of Herman Cain. His eight years of governorship in the 2 to 1 Democrat state of New Mexico (having started out as an underdog…sounds familiar) bests everyone else invited to the debate except Pawlenty, who also had two terms. By comparison, front-runner Mitt Romney has half of that, having only served one term as governor of Massachusetts (and has a liberal-to-moderate record to show for it). Sarah Palin had a mere 2.5 year stint as governor of Alaska before quitting.
While it’s likely far too late to have any effect (as though it ever would have) the Johnson campaign is encouraging folks to contact the hosts of the debate and voice your displeasure:
UPDATE: Gary Johnson makes a great point regarding polls and debates:
In the early part of 1991, there was a governor from a relatively small state who, away from the national spotlight, had compiled a credible record, been reelected by those he served, and who was in the early stages of putting together a national campaign for President. His ranking in national political polls – when he was included – was in the neighborhood of 1-2%. By the end of 1991, he had skyrocketed to roughly six percent.
His name: Bill Clinton.
The so-called “frontrunners” for the ’92 Democrat presidential when Bill Clinton was still a blip on the screen? Mario Cuomo and Jerry Brown, both of whom were polling in double-digits. We all know how that turned out.
Likewise, in 1975, another governor, Jimmy Carter, was polling at 1%. And in 1987, the same was true of a fellow named Dukakis.
The point is clear: Using polls this early in a presidential election cycle to define who is a serious candidate or pick potential winners is a bad idea. Using them to exclude me, another Governor with a solid track record, from a critical national primary debate is even worse. But that is precisely what CNN and the other sponsors of the June 13 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary debate are doing.