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Should more Republicans skip the debates?
Hotair ^ | 10/28/2011 | Ed Morrissey

Posted on 10/28/2011 7:55:31 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

When a credible candidate for significant political office makes a statement or adopts a strategy that seems obviously counterintuitive, criticism will shower down first, followed by a wave of wait-maybe-this-is-brilliant rebuttals. Byron York offers a bit of the latter (as well as some of the former) in a thoughtful piece that poses the question of whether Perry’s announcement that he might not attend future debates isn’t just self-serving, but actually a rational strategy that other Republicans should adopt:

Until a few weeks ago, there seemed to be lots of time for debating. The Iowa caucuses were set for Feb. 6, with the other contests after that. Then Florida upended the Republican schedule, setting its primary Jan. 31 and forcing the early contests to move to earlier dates. The Iowa caucuses will now be Jan. 3. More than a month of campaign time has been lost; debates that were in the planning stages have been squeezed into a smaller period of time.

The sheer number of debates raises the question of diminishing returns. The early debates helped introduce the candidates to the Republican primary electorate. Later debates will help voters in critical states make their final decisions. But the next few debates, while they might be the occasion for a major gaffe or gotcha, have little purpose.

What would the candidates do if they weren’t debating so much? They’d campaign more. That’s obviously what Perry wants to do. Compare his weak performance on the debate stage with his mastery of hands-on, one-on-one campaigning, and its easy to understand why.

But fewer debates would probably benefit the other candidates, too. Voters in the early states really do pay close personal attention to candidates, and word gets around if a candidate does well on the stump. Of course, for that to happen, the candidate has to actually be on the stump.

I’m not so sold on the idea that fewer debates would help the other candidates — save one. So far, the debates have been the springboard for the Not-Romney candidates to launch into contention to be Mitt Romney’s main challenger. We’ve seen Michele Bachmann’s polling spike because of her early debate performances, followed by Herman Cain, and now Newt Gingrich appears to be gaining some ground thanks to his consistently good debate performances (and the weaknesses of the other Not-Romneys). Assuming that there is still room for another candidate or two to quickly ascend — maybe Rick Santorum — the only platform available for that thunderbolt opportunity would be a nationally televised debate. Eliminating debates helps Romney by keeping any of his opponents from gaining momentum, especially in Iowa or South Carolina.

Besides, retail campaigning has not been overly interrupted by these debates. For the most part, they have taken place in early primary/caucus states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida — places where candidates are already campaigning anyway. (Tellingly, a potential Minnesota debate got scotched, even though the RNC chair showed up for the Midwestern Leadership Conference and the leadership from five state parties attended it; Minnesota won’t caucus until February.) The debates allow for both retail, personal politicking as well as national exposure, which benefits the less-well-known candidates. If Cain hadn’t participated in his seventh debate, he never would have broken out of the second tier at the end of September. That built considerable credibility and excitement for Cain’s retail politicking, especially in Iowa.

The formats of the debates are terrible, of course, but they have always been terrible. Anyone expecting a coherent and nuanced policy explanation in 60 seconds, or in a 30-second rebuttal, is in for crushing disappointment. The problem for most sponsors is figuring out how to get seven, eight, or nine people on a stage in 90 minutes or two hours to discuss a wide range of topics. Instead, the early debates should put two candidates (chosen by lot) at a time for 30 minutes each to discuss a specific policy area, give each 10 minutes to speak and 5 minutes to rebut, while the moderator simply keeps track of the time. That would allow voters to see how candidates approach policy rather than who can best deliver a zinger.

In the end, though, the debates show who is most prepared to debate in the general election, a point made by both Gingrich and Santorum as they blast Perry:

In a question-and answer-session with reporters following an education forum, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich both suggested it is a sign of weakness for Perry to take a pass on some future debates. At least 10 have been scheduled between now and the end of January.

“I’d never skip a debate. I’d never skip the opportunity to let the American public know what I think about these issues,” Santorum said. “I’m all about digging deeper and people getting to know the candidates.”

Gingrich suggested that Perry’s reluctance raises questions about his fitness for the fall campaign. “I don’t see how somebody can say that they can’t debate Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul, but they’ll be ready to debate Barack Obama,” he said. “I think Governor Perry would find it an enormous mistake to not go to the debate and I think that frankly he’d look pretty silly.”

While it’s a good impulse to check one’s assumptions and carefully consider political strategy, Perry’s declaration on debates doesn’t pass the laugh test even on second thought. It’s equivalent to an admission that he’s simply not up to the task of engaging in an extemporaneous format, and that’s not a confidence builder regardless of what one thinks of the debates.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2012election; campaign; debates; gopdebates; gopprimaries; primaries; republicans

1 posted on 10/28/2011 7:55:32 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
They should add an empty chair with a text to voice teleprompter to put out Zer0's pronouncements to be refuted by the GOP challengers.

Attack the real enemy.

2 posted on 10/28/2011 8:02:12 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: SeekAndFind
Gingrich suggested that Perry’s reluctance raises questions about his fitness for the fall campaign. “I don’t see how somebody can say that they can’t debate Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul, but they’ll be ready to debate Barack Obama,” he said. “I think Governor Perry would find it an enormous mistake to not go to the debate and I think that frankly he’d look pretty silly.”

Gingrich nails it ---- again.

3 posted on 10/28/2011 8:02:18 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi (Cain for President - Because I like the content of his character)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: SeekAndFind

If Perry skips a debate, it will look very bad for him, given his poor performance in the past.

Just raising this is a negative for him.

If he actually skips, stick a fork in him -— he’s done.

No offense to Perry supporters, but this is not the way to rehabilitate your campaign.


5 posted on 10/28/2011 8:04:51 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi (Cain for President - Because I like the content of his character)
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To: SeekAndFind
Thanks for posting. Liberal-moderated debates need to start getting skipped. "The corn is never innocent in the court of chickens."

Here in SW Virginia, the GOP candidates skipped a forum last night given by the League of Women Voters. Which was great. The moderator was a Roanoke Times editorial genius, whom local readers will remember as the one who got all the state's CCW holders' names and addresses posted on the paper's website a couple of years ago.

Here's the story.
6 posted on 10/28/2011 8:06:29 AM PDT by hemogoblin
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To: SeekAndFind

“Should more Republicans skip the debates?”

Why? So they can make Perry not look so bad? When your opponent is drowning, throw him a rope.

Both ends.


7 posted on 10/28/2011 8:07:39 AM PDT by Grunthor (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0heL2Czeraw)
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To: SeekAndFind
I said a long time ago that ALL Republicans should avoid ANY State-Run-Media interviews, loaded-question debates, or other opportunities to forward their Agenda.

Let the State-Run-Media try to attack those who aren't there. ONLY Leftists watch their crap regularly, anyway.

8 posted on 10/28/2011 8:08:04 AM PDT by traditional1 ("Don't gotsta worry 'bout no mo'gage, don't gotsta worry 'bout no gas; Obama gonna take care o' me!)
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To: Vaquero

A debate should be a special event , not a (yawn) weekly TV show


9 posted on 10/28/2011 8:08:50 AM PDT by molson209
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To: SeekAndFind

I think they need to practice, practice, practice. I don’t care if not so many people watch, but being able to articulate your position and refute others’ is very powerful and I would think that ambitious candidates would want that power.


10 posted on 10/28/2011 8:09:41 AM PDT by married21 (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Mary Catharine Hamm was just on FOX saying that she can understand not wanting so many debates, but it is far better to be a person who has performed well in the debates to bring this up.

I agree. Otherwise......it looks like cowardice.


11 posted on 10/28/2011 8:11:50 AM PDT by dforest
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To: SeekAndFind
When a credible candidate for significant political office...

I stopped reading right there.

12 posted on 10/28/2011 8:13:25 AM PDT by FreeReign
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To: Erik Latranyi

They are not debates

They are liberal MEdia sponsored dog-and-pony shows

Newt of course is a veteran at being a toad to the liberal MEdia, and an occasional uselful tool

FUNG


13 posted on 10/28/2011 8:14:36 AM PDT by silverleaf (Common sense is not so common - Voltaire)
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To: SeekAndFind

Clearly, Perry is not ready for prime time.

Aside from that, the debates have been an orchestrated attempt by leftist media wonks to form a circular firing squad of the conservative Republican candidates to weaken them all in the event they run against Obama and to stregthen the hand of the one candidate who is least likely to beat Obama, yet least objectionable to them should he actually succeed in getting nominated - Mitt Romney.


14 posted on 10/28/2011 8:18:45 AM PDT by ZULU (ANYBODY BUT ROMNEY)
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To: Paladin2

When the main stream media, the conservative ENEMEY, is calling the debate shots,

well it is time
to decline.
Make like Palin
Go Sailing
around the country
to help keep it free.

Focus on Hussain
the source of our pain,
and his rich rich donors
and all the loaners
he gave to them
with a stroke of his pen
putting us in jepordy
so we are less-free.

Attack his record
turning us into world lepers
while he eats massaged beef
vacations on distant reefs.


15 posted on 10/28/2011 8:19:08 AM PDT by Chickensoup (In the 20th century 200 million people were killed by their own governments.)
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Not Supporting FR?


Click The Marxist To Donate

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

~ Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006

16 posted on 10/28/2011 8:23:42 AM PDT by DJ MacWoW (America! The wolves are here! What will you do?)
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To: SeekAndFind

Between 4 and 6 million have watched the debates. And probably most of that 4 to 6 million are the same viewers from debate to debate.

Most average people are not even paying attention, and they won’t until it is time for their state primaries.

So far, the debates have covered basically the same information. The first major debate (MSNBC, IIRC) tried to get the candidates chewing on each other, but it failed. The next debate (CNN, IIRC) did get them going after each other, and the next major debate (FoxNews, IIRC) had them going for the throats.

It makes good TV — for the debate programs and networks, but the debate now have little in the way of ‘new’ information about the candidates.

IIRC, some 20 debates are scheduled. Unless the format changes [1 minute to answer; 30 second to respond] in such a was as to cause something new in the debates, they are trampling over the same old ground, same old accusations, same old baggage.

The biggest boon to the debates will be when the field in narrowed down to about 3 probable candidates. Maybe then, they are will provide more depth.


17 posted on 10/28/2011 8:38:53 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: hemogoblin
Liberal-moderated debates need to start getting skipped. "The corn is never innocent in the court of chickens."

Right.

If one goes into the lion's den, one should expect to get scratched and bitten.

The MSM are not these guys' [gender neutral] friends. The MSM is there to push certain candidates up and destroy others.


18 posted on 10/28/2011 8:43:26 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: Paladin2

Rush made a great point. Roger Ailes is in entertainment and news. That is where the “gotcha” questions come from.


19 posted on 10/28/2011 8:46:46 AM PDT by personalaccts (Is George W going to protect the border?)
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To: Erik Latranyi
Gingrich suggested that Perry’s reluctance raises questions about his fitness for the fall campaign. “I don’t see how somebody can say that they can’t debate Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul, but they’ll be ready to debate Barack Obama,” he said. “I think Governor Perry would find it an enormous mistake to not go to the debate and I think that frankly he’d look pretty silly.”

Gingrich nails it ---- again.

**************************************

Agreed. Imho, the only reason that a candidate would skip the debates is because he or she is failing.

Any candidate that can't measure up to the challenge of debating other Republicans can't possibly measure up to the challenge of being Commander in Chief and President of this country.

20 posted on 10/28/2011 8:50:22 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: SeekAndFind

There are 40 days till the first primary. I heard there are 16 more debates (stupid). Experts say it takes 2 days to prepare for a debate. so take 32 days out of the 40 and that leaves a candidate (8) EIGHT days to do personal campaigning.

The candidates would be stupid to attend all of the debates, actuallt trained seal shows, with liberals as the ring masters.

I agree with Perry, they do nothing but give the media some news spots. It’s called MANUFACTURED news. But hey, apparently that is what people want these days sideshows.


21 posted on 10/28/2011 8:53:14 AM PDT by marty60
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To: SeekAndFind

They aren’t debates. They are target practice/range time for the MSM and the dems.


22 posted on 10/28/2011 8:54:08 AM PDT by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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To: SeekAndFind

It would have been a rational strategy if he had adopted it when he first entered the race. He could have said he wanted to work his way into the contest, that he still had duties in his state, and wanted to build a campaign team before he started actively campaigning.

Unless he has a great next debate, skipping any debates now, even if it makes sense, will raise all sorts of derision.

I think our entire team should have skipped some of those debates, and we should be running our own debates, with our own moderators, discussing issues we think are important, not what CNN wants to attack us about.


23 posted on 10/28/2011 9:07:07 AM PDT by CharlesWayneCT
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To: SeekAndFind

Newt and Herman Cain are having their own debate Nov 5 and I LOVE THAT

I hope it is more a meeting of the minds rather than beating up on each other because I think our dream ticket now is Cain/Gingrich


24 posted on 10/28/2011 9:08:49 AM PDT by Mr. K (We need a TEA Party march on GOP headquarters ~!!)
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To: SeekAndFind

I think that we should always elect the best talker. It’s worked well the past couple of years.


25 posted on 10/28/2011 9:29:27 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: SeekAndFind

Yes, anyone under 10% in the polls should just skip the debates to protest their “unfair” disadvantage in polling.


26 posted on 10/28/2011 9:42:30 AM PDT by MNJohnnie (Giving more money to DC to fix the Debt is like giving free drugs to addicts think it will cure them)
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To: SeekAndFind

It seems to be the general consensus that Perry did poorly in the debates. If he refuses to appear at future debates he will projecting an attitude of sour grapes. Withdrawing from the debates will give his candidacy the death blow.


27 posted on 10/28/2011 10:09:54 AM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: SeekAndFind
They shouldn't do any debates where the leftist press is gatekeeper over what gets talked about and who gets to talk.
28 posted on 10/28/2011 1:12:27 PM PDT by Paine in the Neck (Where's he getting these ideas? He's not smart enough to be that stupid all by himself.)
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To: Mr. K

Newt and Herman Cain are having their own debate Nov 5 and I LOVE THAT

No, this is NG doing more of rommney and the rhino’s dirty work.


29 posted on 10/28/2011 9:43:56 PM PDT by Chickensoup (In the 20th century 200 million people were killed by their own governments.)
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