Fox News Channel is hosting a Republican presidential candidate debate on 1/6/08, two days before votes are cast in the nation’s first primary, and just three days after the first delegates are awarded via the Iowa caucuses. Five candidates will be on the stage: John McCain (R-AZ), Rudy Giuliani (R-NY), Mitt Romney (R-MA), Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and Fred Thompson (R-TN).
The campaign of Ron Paul (R-TX) sees his absence from this list as a glaring omission.
"Given Ron Paul’s support in New Hampshire and his recent historic fundraising success, it is outrageous that Dr. Paul would be excluded," said Ron Paul 2008 campaign chairman Kent Snyder. "Dr. Paul has consistently polled higher in New Hampshire than some of the other candidates who have been invited. Paul supporters should know that we are continuing to make inquiries with Fox News as to why they have apparently excluded Dr. Paul from this event."
The NH Republican Party concurred. "Limiting the number of candidates who are invited to participate in debates is not consistent with the tradition of the first in the nation primary," said party chairman Fergus. "The level playing field requires that all candidates be given an equal opportunity to participate – not just a select few determined by the media prior to any votes being cast."
Underscoring Paul’s argument is the fact that he is well ahead of Thompson in polls from New Hampshire. According to reports, Fox is looking for double-digit national rankings in determining who will be invited.
RBR/TVBR observation: We understand attempts to weed out the true pretenders from debates at some point. But Paul has demonstrated strength by a number of measures, not the least of which is his astonishing grassroots fundraising ability. Some have pointed out that a New Hampshire breakout is a key strategic element of a campaign which needs a boost to move into the upper echelon of candidate. The latest national polls we could find showed Thompson in the low teens, and one had him at 10% even, and sinking, while Paul was at 6% or so and gradually moving up. In short, Paul has earned national attention, is raking in cash, has a committed support base, and is polling ahead of one of the invited candidates in the state of the debate. Fox should make room.