It has been five days since CNN announced that presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, will be excluded from next week’s debate in New Hampshire.
In that time, Johnson has garnered a wealth of support, though CNN has remained steadfast in requiring candidates to receive at least two percent in the polls.
In an interview with The Daily Caller, Johnson called it “really disheartening” and “really disappointing.”
“I never contemplated being excluded from the debate table,” he said. At this point, he’s no longer hopeful that CNN and the other debate sponsors will have a change of heart.
“I was hopeful going into the weekend,” said Johnson. “Now I’m not because we haven’t heard a word.”
On Tuesday, a senior adviser to the Johnson campaign, Ron Neilson, sent a letter to CNN, saying that the decision to use polling criteria “seven months before a single vote is cast is not only absurd, but counter-intuitive to the very purpose of a debate.”
One Johnson supporter was so incensed by the exclusion that she took out a full-page ad that will run Wednesday and Sunday in the Manchester Union Leader under the headline “Tis A Sad Day for Democracy.”
Johnson also told TheDC he was excluded in part because of his political beliefs. “I halfway have to think it’s the positions I have also,” he said, adding that Bill Clinton was in the same polling range at this stage in his campaign. Moreover, said Johnson, he was actually left out of CNN’s polls for the month of April.
Seven other candidates are scheduled to appear at the debate, held on the campus of Saint Anselm College: Rep. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.
Will Johnson still attend – as a form of silent protest? No, he told TheDC, saying it would be “terribly uncomfortable.”
“It’s an embarrassment.”