Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says the organizers of Tuesday’s presidential primary debate in New Hampshire should allow former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson to participate.
The “elite media” shouldn’t decide the next GOP nominee, Gingrich says.
Johnson, a libertarian-leaning Republican who has participated in two nationally televised debates so far this cycle, has been in a constant battle to be included in debates since he launched his campaign. Low poll numbers have hindered him, though his supporters have argued that his poll numbers would rise if he was given the chance to participate in debates.
“Fairness requires Gov. Johnson to be included in tomorrow’s debate,” Gingrich wrote on Twitter Monday. “I encourage Wash Post/Bloomberg to invite him.”
In an email to The Daily Caller, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “When it comes to picking the leader of the free world, we are better off trusting the judgment of the American people, not the whims of the elite media.”
Columnist Fred Barnes on Sunday wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the importance of primary debates to candidates like Johnson — and how devastating it is for them not to be included.
“The biggest beneficiaries of increased viewership are the also-rans,” Barnes wrote. “The debates keep them in the race. At no cost, they get the attention of millions more voters than they ever could on their own.”
Johnson’s campaign has been pushing for inclusion, calling debate qualifications arbitrary.
“To be included, they say a candidate must have participated in three debates. Gary has participated in two,” said Ron Nielson, a senior advisor to Johnson’s campaign. “And for good measure, they included a fundraising threshold that we didn’t meet — as though that is relevant to anyone’s qualifications for President.”
Nielson continued: “As the campaign progresses and it becomes more and more complicated to exclude Gary Johnson from debates, perhaps the national media should simplify the Gary Johnson Rule with criteria that just require that candidates not be named Gary Johnson. It would save a lot of time and effort.”