Political Insider‘s Cicero, noting that Illinois businessman John Cox has spent a million dollars and is campaigning tirelessly but is being ignored while people like Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich are being invited to debates, wonders where the line is drawn between a “viable” and a “fringe” candidate for president.
It’s a fair question, really. Certainly, I’d consider any of the candidates in the low single digits to be marginal. My January list of People Who Won’t Get Elected President consists entirely of people who have been elected to significant office — Congress or a governorship — and yet have next to no national name recognition or any obvious way to break to the top of the pack.
Gravel and Ron Paul, both of whom got some netroots love after noteworthy debate performances, were on the list; were I crafting it now, they’d still make it. John Cox and Susan Ducey, neither of whom I’d heard of at the time, didn’t make the list but they fit the description.
It’s early enough in the process, I suppose, to pretend that Gravel, Paul, Brownback, and others who have held major elected offices or otherwise have some national prominence are legitimate candidates and include them in the debates. As we get further into the process, though, the parties owe it to their nominating electorates to winnow the field to those who have a chance to win, so that precious television time isn’t wasted on vanity candidates.
Cox might well be a very capable guy. He is, however, a fringe candidate for the White House. The fact that he’s got a million dollars and lots of time to waste in Iowa doesn’t change the fact that nobody has ever heard of him and that he’s never gotten elected to anything. There are likely going to be dozens, if not hundreds, of people running. We simply can’t include all of them in the debates or even the press coverage.