One of two candidates who did not qualify for Saturday evening's Republican debate blames an "anti-Republican side show" orchestrated by the press.
"The media, through its selective polling and debates, has been trying to winnow the field in New Hampshire's Republican primary since day one," former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore said at a campaign event in New Hampshire. "The latest example of this manipulation is ABC's debate tonight that includes only seven of the nine GOP candidates for president."
Gilmore, along with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina did not meet the criteria outlined by ABC, which requires a candidate place among the top three in the popular vote in the Iowa caucuses or place among the top six in recent New Hampshire and national polls.
"By reportedly setting an Iowa outcome as one of the criteria for the Saturday debate, ABC and the networks are effectively taking over the strategy of a candidate's campaign. This is certainly not their role and rigs the nomination process," Gilmore said.
After appearing in the undercard event at the very first Republican debate in August, Gilmore failed to qualify for the next five debates. He appeared in the latest debate, hosted late last month by Fox News, in the undercard event with Fiorina, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Santorum and Huckabee, along with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, have since suspended their campaigns after poor performances in the Iowa caucuses. With the GOP field cut to below double digits for the first time, Saturday's debate will be the first without an undercard event.
In a recent phone interview with the Washington Examiner, Gilmore said with only nine candidates remaining, "there is more than enough room" on the debate stage to include him and Fiorina.
He blamed the networks for providing a free platform to top candidates to speak in order to make money on advertising.
"This media effort being perpetrated by ABC and the other networks is attempting to take away the opportunity of New Hampshire voters to vote for the best qualified candidate," Gilmore said in New Hampshire three days before the first-in-the-nation primary. "Instead, the media is trying to select the candidate it knows will continue an anti-Republican side show."
Gilmore says he chose to bypass the Iowa caucuses in order to focus on the Granite State. He has held over 100 campaign events in New Hampshire. His campaign says it sent voters nearly 500,000 mailers that blame the "organized establishment" media for ignoring his long-shot campaign.
"When the people of New Hampshire go to the polls on Feb. 9th, I urge them to send a loud and clear message to the media by voting for Jim Gilmore, the only veteran in the presidential race, a former U.S. Army intelligence agent, and the person most qualified to get America back on track," Gilmore said.