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Saturday, January 5, 2008 - Page updated at 11:07 AM

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NH GOP Drops Out As Fox Forum Partner

New Hampshire's Republican Party has dropped out as a partner of a Fox News Channel presidential forum because the network won't let two low-polling candidates take part.

Party Chairman Fergus Cullen said he has failed in attempts to get Fox to include candidates Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter in Sunday's forum.

"Only in New Hampshire do lesser known, lesser funded underdogs have a fighting chance to establish themselves as national figures," Cullen said. "Consistent with that tradition, we believe all recognized major candidates should have an equal opportunity to participate in pre-primary debates and forums."

David Rhodes, Fox's vice president of news, did not address Cullen's objection in a one-sentence statement released immediately after Cullen's announcement.

"We look forward to presenting a substantive forum which will serve as the first program of its kind this election season," Rhodes said.

The network said previously that it invited candidates who had received double-digit support in national polls. Fox invited Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. The 90-minute forum airs at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Cullen also said all candidates should be allowed in Saturday's ABC-WMUR debate. ABC announced Friday that based on either a poor showing in Iowa or poor poll showings, Hunter and Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel would not be included.

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