Politics & Government

Lindsey Graham punted from GOP debate next week

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham gmelendez@thestate.com

Next week’s GOP presidential undercard debate just lost its best comic.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham did not make the cut for the early debate Tuesday in Milwaukee on Fox Business News after failing to win 1 percent of support in four recent polls.

The Seneca, S.C., Republican was declared the winner of two previous undercard debates, scoring points with his humor and wit. During a California debate, Graham suggested Republicans and Democrats needed to drink more to solve their differences.

Graham’s campaign was unhappy that one of the polls used to determine the debate field, NBC/The Wall Street Journal, listed just 10 GOP candidates, rather than the full 15-candidate field, including the senator. The Wall Street Journal is co-hosting the debate next week with Fox Business.

“It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day,” Graham campaign manager Christian Ferry said.

Missing the debate could add to the pressure for Graham to drop out of the GOP race, freeing some of his S.C. backers, who supported his presidential run out of loyalty, to switch to a presidential candidate with better poll numbers.

The senator is outside the top 12 in national poll averages as well as recent surveys in the early-primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, according to Real Clear Politics. He is running seventh in his home state of South Carolina.

Graham, who has based his campaign on national security, will join former Govs. George Pataki and Jim Gilmore on the sideline at next week’s debate.

Another pair of 2016 Republican hopefuls find themselves booted off the main stage at next week’s debate after falling short of a 2.5 percent average in four polls.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will take part in the undercard debate with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

Fox Business News used results from polls conducted by Fox News, Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP and Quinnipiac University, as well as The Wall Street Journal/NBC News.

The channel said those polls used “standard methodological techniques” that included live interviewers, random digit-dial sampling techniques and calls to both landlines and cellphones. Fox Business said it used poll results of either self-identified Republican primary voters or GOP and GOP-leaning voters to determine who made the debate.