Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why in South Carolina?

I have to admit that I haven't heard the official explanation yet to the obvious question. Why was Ron Paul excluded from the Fox-sponsored Republican debate (OK, they called it a "forum") in New Hampshire on Sunday but included in the Fox-sponsored Republican debate in South Carolina tonight? Did they get enough complaints that they decided to change their policy? The idea that he did well enough in New Hampshire to warrant inclusion along with Thompson, who came in at 1 percent, doesn't really wash given that he got 10 percent in Iowa and only 8 percent in New Hampshire.

The only explanation that makes sense to me is that they feared he might make a breakthrough in the "Live Free or Die" state and wanted to do whatever little bit might be in their power to prevent that from happening, but they figured he wasn't going to do all that well in South Carolina anyway, and perhaps exposing his views to more South Caolinians might actually hurt him (he came in last in Frank Luntz's focus group). As it happened, Ron Paul would probably have done quite well in the somewhat more relaxed (almost chummy) environment Chris Wallace provided in New Hampshire, but I have my doubts whether that one event would have helped him all that much (the foofaraw over the exclusion might have helped him). As Ron's New Hampshire office manager told me election night, he did almost exactly what the pollsters said he would do, as did almost all the other GOP candidates.

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