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June 11. 2011 9:35PM

Johnson supporters push to get him in GOP debate

A senior adviser for Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign staff voiced opposition Friday to Johnson’s exclusion from Monday’s Republican presidential primary debate, and supporters placed full-page newspaper ads stating the former New Mexico governor should be given a place on the podium.

“Debates are supposed to be opportunities for the voters to see and hear credible candidates without all the trappings of handlers, poll numbers and name ID,” said Ron Nielson, the campaign adviser.

Some of that outrage is being expressed in the form of political advertisements. The full-page ads ran in the New Hampshire Union Leader and the Concord Monitor last Thursday and Friday respectively, and a newer version appears in this week’s New Hampshire Sunday News. The ads, placed by Kerry Welsh — a self-described entrepreneur and inventor from Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif. — contend Johnson has in fact qualified for the debate, citing polling criteria.

The New Hampshire Union Leader and its debate co-sponsors invited every candidate who met any one of the following three standards:

- An average of at least 2 percent voter approval in at least three national polls released in April by ABC, The Associated Press, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, FOX, Gallup, Los Angeles Times, Marist, McClatchy, NBC, Newsweek, Pew, Quinnipiac, Reuters, USA Today or Time.

- An average of at least 2 percent in at least three national polls released in May by any of those organizations.

- An average of at least 2 percent in polls of New Hampshire voters conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and released in May.

Organizers report that Johnson fell short, receiving no support in the Granite State in two local surveys conducted by UNH.

Welsh and other supporters cite poll numbers they say show he met the 2 percent threshold:

- A May 27 CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll that shows Johnson received 2 percent of the vote

- A May 26 Gallup Poll that shows Johnson with 3 percent of the vote

- And a May 4 Quinnipiac Poll that shows Johnson at 1 percent.

Welsh says if you add up the numbers from those three polls, Johnson receives an average of 2 percent of the vote.

But organizers point out that one of those polls featured language that excluded two potential GOP candidates, asking voters whom they would support if certain candidates, such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, were dropped from consideration.

Charlie Perkins of North Village Media, a debate organizer and former news executive at the Union Leader, said: “The debate is open to unannounced potential candidates who have significant public support. Therefore, invitations could not be based on restrictive polling that excluded those names. In unrestricted polling, Johnson’s average in the three surveys cited by Welsh and other Johnson supporters was 1.33 percent, not 2 percent.”

Last week, Perkins and other organizers defended the criteria, saying that without using polling results as a standard, there would be no objective way to determine who among the field of 144 presidential prospects who have already filed with the Federal Election Commission should receive invitations.

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