While the five major Democratic presidential candidates spoke inside a Manchester, N.H., auditorium Sunday, rival candidate Larry Agran stood outside, protesting a decision to exclude him from the last debate before Tuesday's presidential primary.
"I feel, of course, personally saddened and disappointed," Agran, former mayor of Irvine, said in a telephone interview from New Hampshire. "But I'm even more saddened and disappointed for the American people.
"You had an auditorium for 800 people, and (there was) not a soul in the house other than the candidates and the League of Women Voters and the appointed moderator."
"The entire public was locked out of the event," said Agran, who conceded that his exclusion from the debate makes it just that much more difficult for his dark-horse campaign to be taken seriously.
"It was in my judgment, a travesty, particularly since the League of Women Voters had promised the American voters a different kind of debate . . . to give lesser-known candidates a chance to be heard. In fact the League has perpetuated a fraud on the American people."
Agran said he is scheduled to appear this Sunday in a debate with at least four of the five major Democratic candidates in South Dakota, site of the second presidential primary.
"The state (Democratic) party of South Dakota is remarkably open and fair," he said.
Agran said he expects one or two of the five candidates who appeared in Sunday's debate to "surely fall by the wayside" after Tuesday's balloting.
"And since mine is a campaign of principal based on a call for broad new national priorities, I'm hoping and believing that press attention will begin to focus on our campaign as these others collapse."