CNN will be hosting a debate for the current presidential nominees for the Republican Party on Monday, June 13th at 8 PM. Those who will be attending the debate include Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann. Others who were invited included Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and Jon Huntsman Jr., who are either not in the race or have chosen not to run. Bachmann has yet to enter the race, but has still been invited. This leaves us to candidates who have not been invited, because of their troubles in the polls. Fred Karger and Buddy Roemer were the seriously inclined candidates to not be invited to the debate, nor were they invited to the last debate. Also on this list is Gary Johnson, who was excluded due to not polling well enough. Not polling well enough is generally a fair reason to not be a part of the debate, but how legit are these polls?
In order to participate, candidates had to garner at least 2% in many listed polls within the last two months. You can easily check out the polls for yourself to see if they were legitimate enough. Between Santorum, Huntsman (who hasn't even entered the race and will not be attending anyway), and Johnson, the numbers are too close to tell. All three have averaged within the 1% and 3% range and the fact that Johnson has been excluded rings in a ton of questions, the main question being about the accuracy of these polls.
Excluding secondary candidates isn't anything new. In 2008, Alan Keyes was excluded from almost all of the debates, Mike Gravel ended up on the same track in the later debates, others included Dennis Kucinich, Duncan Hunter, and even Ron Paul was excluded from a few. A lot of this may also be due to the fact that many of their views contrasted from the status quo of the party (Hunter was an exception). For instance, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman Jr. are fairly conservative all around and tend to show views that most quench the principles. Therefore, they would be taken more seriously than a candidate who's more independent like Gary Johnson. Ron Paul has begun to give strong enough polling numbers, fundraising numbers, and number of votes to be taken seriously. This will be what Gary Johnson has to do in order to be taken seriously, because his views are extremely different, but they make sense and he's a likable guy with a sense of humor who doesn't conform to the basic principles of the party. While I'm supporting Paul, I feel that Johnson has a strong future when it comes to making another run. What we need are non-conformists who follow what they believe in, like Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.
My take on debate requirements is that all serious candidates should have the right to participate in the debates and I mean serious candidates. What would make most sense is to allow anybody who garnered at least 1% in any national poll or 1% in any poll conducted in the state in which the debate is being held to participate in the debate. There should be no loopholes, no exceptions to the rule, and math that is fairly completed, simple as that! In addition, the only polls that should count should be those that include candidates who have announced a bid or are testing the waters to do so. That way, everything is fair and everybody who has a chance at the presidency has a fair chance at speaking their case.
I feel every candidate should have a say and should have a right to defend their say when debating the issues that matter most to America. Taking out candidates because they don't poll well enough in some polls, but not others, and the numbers aren't counted exactly on the spot is not the right decision. When the poll requirements jack up is one thing, but I still feel that the process is more about picking and choosing as oppose to exactly following the polls. Gary Johnson looked as if he qualified just as much as Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman Jr., so my questions point to the legitimacy of the polling. If you're going to base requirements on polling numbers, they have to be firm and explanatory.
Gary Johnson has been invited to a debate next month in Las Vegas, which must have had fewer requirements. I don't see why CNN didn't do the same, though they almost did the same thing in 2007 with Mike Gravel. Eventually, he was invited, but given the least amount of speaking time. Johnson was given the least amount of speaking time on the FOX News debate and the lightest question in the lightning round, which allowed him to show his sense of humor, but made it look as if he wasn't a seriously candidate. His views are pretty serious and make a lot of sense. It kind of reminds me of Ron Paul in 2007, who had to work in order to make it to the spot he's in now. I don't see why Johnson can't do the same.