Presidential candidate Gary Johnson doesn't understand his exclusion from the second GOP presidential debate, scheduled for June 13 in New Hampshire.
In an appearance Sunday on Fox News' America's Election Headquarters Johnson said, "I'm a believer in the system, but I have to tell you right now I'm not so much a believer in the system."
The New Hampshire debate is sponsored by CNN, the New Hampshire Union Leader and WMUR. Seven announced and unannounced candidates will participate. They include former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, businessman Herman Cain, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty who all participated in the first GOP debate which aired on Fox News in May. Johnson, who appeared at the Fox News debate, was not invited to participate in New Hampshire.
In addition to the those named above, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will also be on stage for the June 13 debate.
CNN says invitations were also sent to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Huckabee, Trump and Daniels have since declined to run. Huntsman, Palin and Giuliani declined the invitation to attend.
In a press release, Johnson Campaign Manager Ron Nielson said, "While we have had no specific explanation from the debate sponsors, it appears that Gary Johnson's exclusion was based on some mysterious polling arithmetic."
In his Fox News appearance Johnson maintained, "I think the main thing to look at in polls right now is that people are completely dissatisfied with politics as usual. I didn't come out from under a culvert to run for President of the United States. I think I've had a terrific background that gives me the qualifications to actually do this."
The sponsors of a debate decide what criteria will be used to determine who will be included, and who will be excluded. CNN's criteria include a requirement that each candidate must have received two percent in three national polls in the month of April.
Nielson says, "The differences that excluded us while producing invitations for several other less-known candidates would certainly fall within the margin of error of any poll. CNN didn't even include Governor Johnson in some of their own April polls, yet we suspect they used those polls in their math. That makes no sense whatsoever."
Johnson believes his credentials make him a viable candidate, "I started a one man handyman business in Albuquerque in 1974 and grew it to over a thousand people. I was arguably the most fiscally conservative governor in the country based on all the vetoes that I rendered (over 700), only two of which were overridden. So I really made a difference when it came to government."
It's no secret that the former governor's strategy relies heavily on New Hampshire where the state motto is, "Live Free, Or Die." His libertarian-leaning philosophy will likely play much better there than in other, more socially conservative, early primary states like Iowa or South Carolina. Johnson's exclusion from a debate in the state where he announced his intention to run could be serious blow to his candidacy.
But the fact that he is being excluded is itself already garnering the candidate some much needed attention. An opinion piece in The Atlantic titled, " Why CNN Is Wrong to Exclude Gary Johnson From Its Debate," author Conor Friedersdorf says, "I'd suggest the general principle that the earlier the debate comes in the primary process, the bigger the tent should be -- you want to include every plausible contender who is earnestly serious about running. By that standard, Gary Johnson would be included "