By Seth McKelvey
Ron Paul's presidential campaign is lashing out after being largely ignored at the CBS News/National Journal debate in South Carolina. The candidate received only 90 seconds of talk time in the one hour of televised debate. Infowars.com reports:
Campaign Manager John Tate [blasted] out an email entitled “What a Joke,” in which he stated, “It literally made me sick watching the mainstream media once again silence the one sane voice in this election....Ron Paul was silenced, in perhaps the most important debate of the cycle. "
Apparently, CBS News thinks Paul is so good he simply doesn't need any more time, calling Paul's 90 second performance an "unqualified success."
Adding to the furor, CBS political director John Dickerson inadvertantly copied the Michele Bachmann campaign on an email saying she was "not going to be getting many questions," causing the Bachmann campaign to complain of unfairness in the debates. According to Politico, Dickerson replied that “Bachmann is at four percent in the polls and has been for a while. Other candidates aren’t."
For fun, let's consider the results if poll numbers really were the metric for debate facetime fairness as Dickerson implies. Polling at 8 percent, Paul would have doubled his time to about 184 of the 2300 or so seconds up for grabs (found by adding up the times listed here). By that logic, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann, who all poll below Paul but received more talking time, are big winners. Surging Newt Gingrich also received time disproportionately larger than his polling numbers. Master debater Rick Perry, who polls close to Paul, received more time than anyone (I can't imagine why).
So who is left to join Paul in the ranks of those getting the airtime shaft? Frontrunners Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, each receiving far less time than their polling numbers demand. Perhaps this is CBS's way of telling Paul he really is a top tier candidate now.