After several public complaints from Ron Paul's presidential campaign and his supporters over lack of air time at debates, the Texas congressman received a higher percentage of speaking time at Tuesday's CNN presidential debate than in any recent contest this election cycle.
In the first hour of the GOP debate in South Carolina on Nov. 13., Paul received just 89 seconds to share his views on television. On Tuesday, he had 600. (CBS gave him more time to speak in the last half hour, when the debate switched to online-only.)
As a percentage, Paul spoke for 13.3 percent of the time, according to an analysis by Eric Ostermeier, a political research associate at the University of Minnesota. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich led the pack for the first time with 16.1 percent of debate time, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 15.3 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in third with 14.5 percent.
During the 10 minutes that he spoke at the CNN debate, Paul--whose views on national security set him apart from his fellow Republicans and even many leading Democrats--played the role of outlier, arguing against racial profiling, the Patriot Act, the wars abroad, military aid to Israel and the criminalization of drugs.
After the 90-minute National Journal-CBS debate that also focused on foreign policy, Paul cried foul when moderators gave him very little air time, blasting out a fund raising letter to supporters pointing out the lack of attention.
"I can't say I am surprised," Paul said in a statement. "Throughout the entire campaign, it's seemed the national media and the Washington, D.C. political establishment have gone out of their way to literally black out my campaign."
He might have a point. In the five debates before South Carolina, bottom-tier candidate Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, was the only candidate to receive less talking time than Paul, according to Ostermeier. Based on data compiled by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, Paul has in fact received the least coverage out of all the declared Republican candidates, despite national polling that puts him in the middle tier of the race.
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