Shunned GOP candidates crash Iowa debate site

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
Font Size:

AMES, Iowa — Two declared GOP candidates for president were not permitted to take the stage at the Republican debate at Iowa State Thursday night, but they crashed the after-party to remind reporters that they’re still running.

“I was disappointed I got left off,” Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter told reporters in Ames after the debate. “But its their network, you know? The First Amendment and all that. So I’d like to be in. We’ll try to do what we can to be in the next one.”

McCotter, who is running for president, also bristled at a question from The Daily Caller to explain the niche he’s hoping to fill in the race.

“I don’t fill a niche,” he told TheDC. “I have a vision for the American people: an innovative self-government for the 21st century.”

“So if they’re looking for a niche, they can go to one of the other candidates,” McCotter sniped. “Why does anyone run? They run to win.”

Another candidate who didn’t qualify for the debate, according to the event’s sponsors, was Fred Karger. He showed up to the spin room afterward. (RELATED: Cain: Lighten up, America!)

Karger told TheDC, “It was a very difficult debate for me to watch.”

“Particularly when they got to some of my issues,” Karger explained. “How are you going to solve the problems of the country? I worked for [President Ronald] Reagan for a long time. I learned a lot from him. And you know, his name wasn’t invoked, except maybe one time.”

One disappointed candidate who wasn’t allowed to debate Thursday night decided to stay out of Iowa altogether. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson announced that while the other candidates are currying favor at the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday, he will  instead participate in a 100-mile mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado.