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Judge rejects GOP candidates' request to be added to Virginia ballot

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Jan. 13, 2012: Rick Perry waits to be introduced at a campaign stop at the Hilton Head Diner in Hilton Head, S.C.AP

A federal judge has ruled that Rick Perry and three other Republican presidential candidates will not be added to Virginia's primary ballot. 

District Court Judge John Gibney Jr. rejected their requests, arguing that they filed their challenges to Virginia's stringent ballot requirements too late. 

"They played the game, they lost, and then they complained about the rules," he said. 

The decision means -- for now, anyway -- that Perry, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich will be left off the March 6 ballot after failing to meet a state requirement to collect 10,000 signatures in support of their respective campaigns. 

The judge said the campaigns had from July to mid-December to obtain the signatures, and could have challenged the requirement during that period. "The plaintiffs knew the rules months ago," he said. 

Gibney said that if the challenge had been filed earlier, he would have ordered the signature requirement be thrown out. 

After the hearing, Perry campaign attorney Joe Nixon said he will need to talk to his client to determine whether to appeal. 

Asked about the accusation that the candidates complained only after they lost, Nixon said: "The ultimate rule is the Constitution of the United States."

In a separate statement, Nixon said: "We are disappointed with this result that disenfranchises Virginia voters. The judge confirmed that the statute is unconstitutional, but did not remedy that situation. I commend Gov. Perry for his courage and tenacity in pursuing this case, and seeking to protect the rights of Virginia voters."

The candidates have argued that the rules were too strict. Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for Virginia's ballot. 

Fox News' Mike Levine contributed to this report.