Ron PaulAccording to a press release from the campaign of Presidential candidate Ron Paul, Fox News – scheduled to hold a nationally televised debate in New Hampshire on January 6 – may have decided to exclude the surging candidate from their forum. So far Fox has announced invitations to Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mitt Romney. New Hampshire’s primary is scheduled for two days after the debate takes place.

It is yet unclear whether this is simply an oversight on the part of Fox, however if it is indeed a deliberate move it is left to wonder what justifications the network used in coming to their decision to dismiss Paul. While Paul has yet to crack double digits in national polling, a number of his campaign successes demonstrating support for the candidate suggest other metrics need to be taken into account.

To begin, according to Paul’s website, the campaign has received more than $18.8 million in contributions this quarter, over $7 million more than Giuliani, the top fund raiser during the previous quarter, managed during that period. Further, with a fund raising event scheduled to coincide with New Years Eve, the Paul campaign is expected to finish the quarter with over $20 million in contributions, a sum that would almost assuredly make him the victor in the race to raise the most fourth quarter funds.

Further, Paul has demonstrated increased support in key early-primary state polling, including the state of New Hampshire where the debate will be held. In the most recent Rasmussen poll of likely Republican voters in New Hampshire, Paul placed ahead of Thompson and in a statistical tie with Huckabee and Giuliani, all of whom have been invited to participate in the debate.

In Iowa, where voters will head to the polls in less than one week, Paul currently registers 10% of likely Republican caucus goers, again putting him ahead of Thompson and in a statistical tie with Giuliani and McCain.

Also demonstrating Paul’s strength in the Hawkeye State, the Iowa Independent recently ranked him third in their GOP Power Rankings, noting their observation that Paul has a stronger base of support in that state than all other GOP candidates save Romney and Huckabee.

Considering all of this, Fox’s decision to exclude Paul, if indeed that remains their course of action, raises a number of key questions. To begin, how can the candidate likely to raise more funds than any other candidate in the final quarter of the primary cycle be excluded from a key debate? If the answer to that question relies on polling figures, how can it be ignored that many of the invitees rank behind Paul in the key early-primary states?

One answer might come from national polling figures, where Paul has consistently been ranked in single digits. Yet once again these polls offer no indication that Paul is out of the race. With 14% of respondents declaring themselves undecided, and the current leader at only 19%, Paul’s standing of 6% does not preclude him from success, especially when considering the poll’s 4 point margin of error, which places Paul in a statistical tie with Thompson, McCain and Romney on the national level.

Even the boldest of political analysts would be remiss to predict with any certainty which candidate will emerge as the victor in the coming GOP primary race, and considering the volatility of the early primary landscape, the same can be said for predicting who will come in last, and certainly for who should be marginalized in the coming debates.

It is thus laid upon the Fox Network to justify its decision to exclude Paul or clarify why he is the last to receive an invitation to the debate. One thing is certain, Paul’s supporters do not intend to take this slight of their candidate lightly, as various pro-Paul sites are organizing inquires to the network and in some cases even boycotts of the Networks advertisers, amongst other peaceful strategies.

The debate is scheduled for January 6, and will be moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace. It will be aired live beginning at 8pm on Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio.

Update: Paul fires back

According to Boston.com Ron Paul fired back at a campaign lunch today, stating “They (Fox News) are scared of me and don’t want my message to get out, but it will. They are propagandists for this war and I challenge them on the notion that they are conservative.”

His campaign is reported to be organizing a rally to coincide with the offending forum.

Derek is a college student majoring in business management and history. You can visit his blog here, or email him at dgetbnn@gmail.com

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