A campaign strategist for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson confirmed that Johnson has been invited -- and will participate in -- tonight's Fox News GOP Presidential debate in Orlando, after being shut out of the previous four debates.
The Republican Party of Florida reportedly won't let Johnson participate in the Presidency 5 straw poll -- the winner of which is historically selected as the eventual GOP presidential nominee -- but Johnson's camp isn't complaining about his exclusion.
"I also wanted to mention that there has been a significant burst in activity during the last 12 hours as a result of Governor Johnson's inclusion in the debate," Johnson's senior campaign strategist Ron Nielson says in the announcement. "...we've seen a surge in web traffic commensurate with this explosion in press coverage, and this will likely continue during the next few days."
The inclusion in the debate stems from a rift between Fox News and the Republican Party of Florida over the requirement for participation that says a candidate can only be included if they register at least 1 percent in the "five most recent national polls," Sunshine State News reports.
Since Johnson hasn't been included in all polls, Fox News reportedly interpreted the rule to mean the last five polls in which Johnson was even an option for survey respondents to select.
According to Sunshine State News, the Republican Party of Florida figured that if he wasn't part of the survey, that means he polled at zero.
That means Johnson will be out of the action after tonight's debate, while the rest of the candidates spend Friday and Saturday wooing delegates to pick them in the Presidency 5 straw poll.
The Republican Party of Florida also elected to shun New Times out of the action by never responding to our request for media credentials. For the last debate, CNN reached out to us to get us to the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, but it looks like the Pulp will have to schedule a weekend date with Johnson to sulk in our collective rejection from the festivities.
Our theory for New Times' exclusion includes the fact Rep. Ron Paul won our preliminary readers' poll to predict the Presidency 5 straw poll winner, and they clearly didn't properly scan this reporter's Twitter account -- as disclosure of a Twitter handle was part of the applications for credentials -- where I'll occasionally post an unflattering picture of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
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Regardless, the debate airs on Fox News live at 9 p.m., and we'll give you a recap Friday morning.