Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter is not a household name. In fact, if you asked a random person on the street to name the candidates seeking the Republican nomination, they probably wouldn’t get half the names right, let alone include McCotter in their list.
The deadline to meet the criteria to be included in Thursday night’s Fox News Debate in Ames is tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. Unless Fox News has a change of heart, McCotter will not be included in the debate because he doesn’t average one percent in five of the most recent national polls.
Nobody is surprised that McCotter is struggling in the polls as his campaign is still in its infancy. McCotter’s problem isn’t just being basically unknown, it’s that he’s not even being included in polls that he is supposed to register support in. The latest Rasmussen poll didn’t include McCotter, but it also didn’t include Rick Santorum. Pew and Gallup didn’t include McCotter as an option in their most recent surveys either.
So is the criteria really that participants have to register at one percent in national polls, or that they need to be deemed by pollsters and media entities as being worth including? It’s also important to note that McCotter does meet the criteria that were set by the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee. The Republican Party of Iowa, which is a co-sponsor for Thursday’s debate, voted to allow all candidates who are on the Straw Poll ballot into the debate.
Apparently the criteria the Iowa GOP set were just a suggestion or recommendation.
The SCC’s passing criteria that allowed McCotter in the debate was the correct thing to do. While the Iowa GOP and Fox insist that the debate is not linked to Saturday’s Straw Poll, the debate is taking place when and where it is because of its proximity to the first major event of the cycle, the Ames Straw Poll.
By purchasing a lot and participating in the straw poll, McCotter is helping finance this week’s events while Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney are basically getting a free ride. Unlike potential candidates like Perry and Palin, McCotter stepped up to the plate and is playing by the rules. It seems odd that McCotter is being excluded from the debate despite the fact that he is an official candidate in the race, but Perry and Palin would be allowed in the debate in a nanosecond if they filed the paperwork before the deadline.
Even though McCotter has not been included in many polls, his campaign has made a case to both Fox News and the Republican Party of Iowa that he has met the one percent criteria. However, it’s still not enough to satisfy Fox, and opening up the debate to McCotter may lead to other candidates being allowed to participate. However there are two big difference, McCotter satisfies the RPI criteria and he currently holds elected office.
Having criteria that excludes fringe candidates is necessary when organizing debates, but preventing a current member of congress who is just beginning to campaign seems an awful lot like what happened to Ron Paul four years ago.
If Jon Huntsman is allowed to participate in a debate in a state where he doesn’t register any support in the polls, then why shouldn’t McCotter be allowed to stand on the stage next to him? At least McCotter is making an effort in Iowa, albeit, a little late.
The Iowa GOP and Fox News need to realize this is not their debate, it’s the people’s debate. This is about Iowa and the Straw Poll, and those candidates who are interacting with Iowans should be allowed to participate over those who have shunned Iowa voters. Let McCotter debate.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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