Gary Johnson Could Appear in Presidential Debates

Gary Johnson's supporters have protested for weeks to get the Libertarian candidate in the debates.

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Republican presidential candidate former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson makes a statement during a debate Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, in Orlando, Fla.

After weeks of angry protests on Reddit, Facebook and Twitter to get Libertarian party nominee Gary Johnson in the presidential debates, Janet Brown from the Commission on Presidential Debates tells Whispers he might appear there.

Supporters of Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, have repeatedly said their candidate has been unfairly excluded from presidential election coverage by the mainstream media, hurting his chances to appear in the debates.

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That anger only heightened last week when a electoral map generated by data from ISideWith.com, an online app that connects voters with candidates based on their platform stances, showed that Johnson would be the next president if voters cast ballots based solely on the issues.

But Brown told Whispers no decisions on candidate selection have been made yet. Those lobbying to get Johnson in the debates, she said, are "making assumptions about something that has not [happened]."

According to the commission site, a candidate must fulfill three criteria, and Johnson seems to meet them.

Johnson, of course, fulfills an age and nationality requirement, and he has recently met the second criterion as well: That a candidate's name must "appear on enough state ballots to have at least a mathematical chance of securing an Electoral College majority in the 2012 general election."

But the third requirement could lead to Johnson's exclusion. The commission requires a candidate to secure at least 15 percent in selected polls, which Johnson has not yet done. (Gary Johnson polled at 5.3 percent in a poll earlier this month by JZ Analytics; an April Public Policy Polling poll showed him at 6 percent.)

Johnson campaign spokesman Joe Hunter told Whispers of the 15 center benchmark: "We're certainly working towards that and hoping to achieve it."

Johnson's supporters have centered much of their polling frustrations on CNN, which has not included the candidate in their polling since last September. A Twitter hashtag #BlackoutCNN has been used hundreds of times over the last several weeks. Earlier this month, 100 protesters stood outside CNN headquarters in Atlanta with signs and T-shirts asking the network to "Include Gary!" according to the Independent Voter Network.

A request for comment from CNN was not immediately returned, but Hunter told Whispers that whether CNN includes Johnson or not, the campaign is "optimistic" Johnson could appear at the first debate, which will take place Oct. 3 at the University of Denver in Colorado.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.