Scroll To Top
World

Fred Karger Cries Foul After Being Left Out of Another Debate

Fred Karger Cries Foul After Being Left Out of Another Debate

1fredkarger_2
lucasgrindley

The bar for getting into presidential debates is only getting higher, putting Fred Karger's hope of qualifying further out of reach. But Karger says the system is being stacked against him.

Karger does not meet eligibility requirements outlined by Politico for a debate it's hosting with NBC on September 7. But of the eight polls that Politico lists as acceptable for qualifying, seven haven't even recently asked about Karger.

"You know they come up with the criteria in order to meet the participants that they want to have on that stage," Karger told The Advocate. While Karger doesn't have any inside information, he says "it's pretty clear... particularly when they go to these specific polls."

To get on stage at the Reagan Library next week, Politico decided that candidates must hit at least 4% in a poll taken by a short list of survey organizations: Gallup, Bloomberg, NBC/WSJ, ABC/Washington Post, CBS/The New York Times, CNN, FOX, and the Associated Press.

Although Karger has never polled at higher than 2% in any national poll, only one of those companies selected by Politico continues to ask respondents whether they support Karger. That company is Fox. (CNN asked about Karger once in May but hasn't since.)

The irony is Karger has submitted a legal complaint to the Federal Election Commission arguing that Fox News Channel changed its eligibility standards for its recent debate in Iowa only after Karger met them. Fox had required an average of 1% in five recent national polls -- a standard which Karger met. But Fox later clarified that it wasn't accepting polls from Zogby or Harris Interactive, and that some of the polls were too old to be considered recent.

"That was one of my concerns about the Fox debate and announcing that I was qualified is that, OK, next time they are going to be much stricter," Karger said he worried before declaring publicly that he'd met the criteria.

How recent a candidate has hit the 4% mark doesn't matter to Politico. It will accept any poll taken between now and the November 2010 midterms. That's good news for candidates like Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, who failed to reach the 4% threshold in the most recent polls from the accepted organizations.

Santorum, for example, hasn't hit 4% since June, which was before the Iowa straw poll that bounced former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty from the race and before Texas governor Rick Perry entered and shot to the front of the pack. Politico has already earned criticism from bloggers who say that only the most recent polls accurately reflect whether a candidate has a chance of winning.

Politico's own eligibility requirements claim their purpose is to find "all Republicans who have a reasonable prospect of becoming the GOP nominee and who have demonstrated that they are in a credible position to be a principal competitor in the early stages of the nominating contest."

Politico's Charlie Mahtesian defended the standards in a recent interview.

"We wanted to provide a meaningful threshold of candidates that had a significant presence and infrastructure," Mahtesian told Slate's David Weigel. "But at the same time, we wanted to capture some candidates who had some traction, but weren't at the same level. That rough figure of 4%, if you go back and apply it to any race, captures candidates who fit those criteria. Five percent would have been too high."

Selecting 5% would have meant Huntsman no longer qualified, a review of polling shows. And moving the bar lower to then welcome former governors Gary Johnson of New Mexico and Buddy Roemer of Louisiana likely would have also meant Karger qualified.

Karger says it's him who other major candidates like former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney are worried about appearing next to on stage, and that's why he hasn't been given a chance by debate organizers.

"My guess is if I were in discussion, and I may have been in some of these, Romney would say, 'If he's in, I'm out,'" said Karger, a Republican political strategist by trade. "I would think if I were advising him, I might say the same thing."

Karger sent a letter on Monday to Politico and NBC, and also to former first lady Nancy Reagan, arguing that he should be allowed on stage if only because he is the most Reagan-esque of all the declared candidates. But you can safely expect each of the candidates to make that claim during the debate next week.

lucasgrindley
Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Lucas Grindley

Lucas Grindley is VP and Editorial Director for Here Media, which is parent company to The Advocate. His Twitter account is filled with politics, Philip Glass appreciation, and adorable photos of his twin toddler daughters.
Lucas Grindley is VP and Editorial Director for Here Media, which is parent company to The Advocate. His Twitter account is filled with politics, Philip Glass appreciation, and adorable photos of his twin toddler daughters.