CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
Republican presidential candidate Perry Johnson of Bloomfield Hills thought he had made the national GOP deadline to appear on the stage during the August 23 presidential debate in Wisconsin. But alas, it was not to be. National GOP officials had laid down some markers for candidates who wanted to be part of the first Republican debate. Rules required candidates sign an agreement to support whoever is the general election candidate for the party; had to have at least $40,000 donated by at least 200 donors representing 20 different states by August 21; and must reach at least one percent in three national polls or one percent in two national polls and two polls from separate early voting states. No problem on the support agreement. As far as donations, Johnson a week ahead of the deadline said he made the cut, after giving out $10 gas gift cards in exchange for a $1 donation, and handing out free copies of his book – Two Cents to Save America – priced at $10, once again in exchange for a $1 donation. Then there was the free concert which Johnson underwrote at the Iowa State Fair featuring the Big & Rich band. Word has it individual donations totaled about $70,000. Johnson was generally ranked as not likely to make the debate stage by a number of political writers nationally, even though he was number three in an attendee straw poll at the most recent CPAC gathering. The Friday before the August 21 deadline, Johnson said he was ranked at least one percent in three national polls. GOP officials rejected one so-called national poll by the Victory Insight firm because it only included a survey of Republican primary voters in 38 states, not the entire country. Party officials let him know the Monday before the planned debate. Johnson said the debate process was “corrupt” and he would sue, although that appeared to be an empty threat. Johnson certainly gave it his all during the Iowa events in July-August, speaking at the GOP Lincoln Day dinner; taking his obligatory turn flipping food on the grill at the state fair and touring the state in a branded bus. So far, Johnson has loaned his campaign $8.4 million, after spending $7.5 million in personal money in a failed attempt to make the ballot in a run for Michigan governor in the last election.