In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Bottom-Tier GOPers Respond Passive-Aggressively To Being Left Out Of The Main Debate

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AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

Those meanies at Fox News and the Republican Nation Committee "should not be picking winners and losers" but who wants to part of that "celebrity debate," "Trump debacle," anyway, when there will be a "serious exchange of ideas" at the 5 p.m. showing?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told his Facebook followers to "prepare" for the Donald Trump Debate/Debacle, but to watch his turn on stage "to hear real debate about real issues."

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry took a similar line, tweeting that he looks forward to being on the earlier debate "for what will be a serious exchange of ideas & positive solutions to get America back on track."

Perry is perhaps been the loudest critic among the 2016 GOP field of Trump's antics.

Some candidates and their supporters shifted their frustration towards the system by which the field was divided, arguing that the polls national used by Fox and the RNC awarded media showmanship over legitimate candidacies.

"The debate in Cleveland is all about a celebrity," surmised a super PAC supporting Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) in an ad posted online Tuesday.

Carly Fiorina blamed her absence from the prime-time debate on the fact that she is "not a professional politician."

"National polls measure, among other things, name ID. About 40 percent of Republicans have heard my name," she told Morning Joe Wednesday. "In other words, the vast majority of Republican voters, let alone Americans, still don't know who I am. So that's not unexpected considering I am not a professional politician."

There was nothing passive in former Sen. Rick Santorum's response to the news, via the Washington Post's Dave Weigel. His campaign spokesman called the entire process "incredibly flawed" and "preposterous."

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) rejected the idea that debates needed to be split up in the first case.

"I would have rather have been with everyone else," Pataki told NewsmaxTV, arguing that the New Hampshire forum Monday evening that included most the major candidates -- besides, notably, Donald Trump -- "went extremely well."

"I don't think people felt that it was cluttered or unworkable, but rules are what they are," he said, before admitting, "Ideally the debate would just be me sitting up there with the moderator."

About The Author

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Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.