UPDATE 9/21/11, 10:25am: Johnson is now confirming his participation.
For a while now, we've been documenting the travails of the Frozen Out Foursome -- Gary Johnson, Fred Karger, Thad McCotter, and Buddy Roemer -- all of whom can lay claim to substantive Republican bona fides (that is, they've played a larger role in GOP politics than, say, quixotic birther candidate Andy Martin), but who remain excluded from the televised GOP debates. Well, there's some good news -- maybe! -- for one of them. Howard Kurtz says that former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has gained entry to the upcoming Fox News/Google debate, scheduled for this Thursday night:
Johnson will be included in Thursday's Fox News debate in Orlando, the first time he will share a stage with his eight rivals.
The former New Mexico governor won the right to participate, according to Fox sources, by cracking 1 percent in the latest five national polls in which he was included—Fox News, CNN, McClatchy-Marist, ABC, and Quinnipiac—which was the criterion the network had set for inclusion.
Of course, this won't be Johnson's first time at a debate. He appeared onstage at the very first debate of the campaign cycle back on May 5. That was also a Fox News debate, cosponsored by the South Carolina Republican Party. And if you recall, back in May, there weren't a lot of credible candidates to be had. In addition to Johnson, the May 5th debate featured Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. Since then, Pawlenty has dropped out and the only one of those candidates who's managed to carve out a place in the double-digits is Paul.
Of course, this is still a "maybe," apparently. Sometime after Kurtz's piece went live, Slate's Dave Weigel reported on Twitter, "FWIW, Gary Johnson spox tells me they're still waiting on final word re: debate." So, it's not yet a done deal.
In other debate exclusion news, Fred Karger has also requested access to the Fox debate, citing the fact that he has cracked 1% in seven polls. Unfortunately, the seven polls cited (GFK Poll August 26th, McClatchy-Marist Poll August 10th, Synovate Poll August 8th, Harris Poll August 4th, Zogby Poll July 25th, Zogby Poll May 23rd, Fox News Poll April 28th) don't help him with the criteria established for this debate: Fox is only interested in the latest results garnered by five polling organizations -- Fox News, CNN, McClatchy-Marist, ABC, and Quinnipiac.