Great news: First GOP presidential debate already set for spring

posted at 4:23 pm on November 11, 2010 by Allahpundit

The bad news: Like everyone else who read about it this morning, I shudder at the thought that we’ll be hip-deep in a bitterly divisive primary campaign fully 18 months before the next election.

The good news: Traffic goldmine.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan announced plans Thursday to invite the leading Republican contenders to the first debate of the presidential primary season, to be held at her late husband’s presidential library and co-hosted by POLITICO and NBC News.

The debate, sponsored by the Reagan Presidential Foundation, will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.,
during the spring of 2011. NBC News will serve as the television partner for the debate while POLITICO is the online content partner…

“Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his presidential library,” the former first lady said in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming and watching the top candidates debate the issues next spring.”

The reason this is so jarring, I think, isn’t because the debate is scheduled unusually early — Politico reminds us that they sponsored one at the Reagan library in spring 2007 as well — but because it’s being announced so soon after the midterms. We spent months obsessing about dozens of races and are now mired in stories about the new Congress, the lame-duck session, pols jockeying for leadership positions, etc. And suddenly this drops, and we’re forced to pivot instantly to an entirely new bone-wearying strategic slog. Truth be told, plenty of Republican candidates likely would have declared by spring anyway with or without any scheduled debates. Remember, The One jumped in all the way back in early February 2007. Figure Romney, Pawlenty, and Santorum (all of whom are obviously running) will formally announce around that time next year, if not long after, which will put pressure on Daniels, Thune, and Huckabee to follow quickly and not cede any huge advantage in name recognition. (See Nate Silver’s piece today on just how hard it’ll be for dark horses like Thune to get traction. They can’t waste a moment.) Palin, I think, is the one candidate who could wait awhile before declaring, partly because she doesn’t have to worry about name recognition and partly because she could then sell her late entry as some sort of dramatic “I’m here to save you from this field of losers” deus ex machina. One question, though: Would she really skip a debate at the Reagan library, with Mrs. R herself putting out statements about how excited she is? That was a smart move by NBC and Politico to schedule it there. No one’s inclined to just say no to Nancy.

John Podhoretz thinks a debate that early is a horrible idea, either because it’ll encouraging no-shot cranks to jump in to get a bit of camera time (Trump, anyone?) or because there’s a chance even the big candidates will skip it. On the former point, I think you’ll have that problem even if the debate’s held six months later; on the latter point, as noted above, the Reagan imprimatur and the field’s need to counter Palin by boosting their name recognition are heavy incentives to participate. And of course, there’s a prisoner’s dilemma whereby candidate Y might have to show up if candidate X decides to be there. Pawlenty, who desperately needs to raise his profile, will surely attend, and since he’s a threat to peel centrist Republicans away from Romney, Mitt may have no choice but to jump too. I do think J-Pod’s spot on, though, in saying that we’re likely to learn little from whatever happens there. For ideas on how to change that, see Matt Lewis’s suggestions for a round of debates to be hosted by conservative media. My favorite:

Conservative new-media outlets should host at least one debate. Back in 2007, when I was at Townhall.com, we attempted to host a debate in Florida, which would have been broadcast on Townhall and simulcast on Salem Communications radio stations across the nation. Sadly, it fell through when one prominent GOP candidate would not agree to the terms. But that’s not to say that the idea couldn’t be revisited. After all, it is no longer only the mainstream TV networks that “own” broadcasting equipment. There’s no reason why National Review, Heritage Foundation, and, say, RedState couldn’t — and shouldn’t — sponsor a primary debate.

Imagine it — the Townhall/Hot Air presidential debate. “First question is for Gov. Palin. Let’s talk about atheism.”


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Co-hosted by POLITICO and NBC News.

Why?

Rocks on November 11, 2010 at 4:27 PM

That’s the best question here. Why should candidates set themselves up in a shooting gallery for Bammie’s boys to take potshots at them?

Fox News should own the Republican primary debates, entirely, totally, completely. I don’t entirely trust them, but on the other hand I know Politico and NBC wants to shaft us.

slickwillie2001 on November 11, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Grow Fins on November 11, 2010 at 5:12 PM

The problem with you and tools like you, is that you can’t help yourself from saying idiotic things whenever the topic of Palin comes up.

Has it ever occurred to you that you’ll get your wish if Palin runs and doesn’t make it?

So what’s the deal? Let her succeed or fail without the incessant sniping.

powerpro on November 11, 2010 at 5:46 PM

No one’s inclined to just say no to Nancy.

Well played, sir. Very well played.

JeffWeimer on November 11, 2010 at 5:49 PM

to be held at her late husband’s presidential library and co-hosted by POLITICO and NBC News.

Here we go. The LSMFM is already jumping in to start controlling the GOP nomination process, setting the timetable, setting the narrative, controlling the parameters of the discussion.

It will be abortion, abortion, gay marriage, abortion, don’t ask don’t tell, criminality of the wealthy, abortion, Morman racism, Levi Johnston (probably a surprise guest in audience),popcorn popper fired squirrel, abortion, gay marriage, what do you really read if anything, why do Mormons have polygamous marriages with only white women,
What is so fun about torturing captive brown people, abortion, separation of church and state is in the constitution even if it doesn’t actually say it, what was your favorite George W. Bush Failure, gays, abortion, gays, abortion, gay abortion and abortion.

Moderators will probably be Tom Brokaw/Brian Williams, and whoever the hell Politico picks does it really matter.

I would have thought that the Reagan Library is the perfect venue for a GOP Presidential Debate, but letting these commie clown leftists run it instead of Brit Hume and Chris Wallace is just downright criminal. It is like a Political Pearl Harbor, for crying out loud.

Brian1972 on November 11, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Why not balance it out ideologically, and if we must watch it on NBC National Barack Channel, then make them partner with the Heritage Foundation instead of Politico.

Politico could be forced to partner with Fox News for the next one. Isn’t that a much more fair approach?

Brian1972 on November 11, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Nancy Reagan is a Pro-choice RINO so she’s probably a total establishment TPAW or Mitch Daniels Republican.

OBAMA IS A LAME DUCK LAME DUCK LAME DUCK.

STILL FEELS GOOD…..quack, he’s a “Lame duck”!!!!

PappyD61 on November 11, 2010 at 6:06 PM

If Politico is there, I hope Palin asks Ben Smith why he is such a Horses A$$.

portlandon on November 11, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Brian1972 on November 11, 2010 at 5:50 PM

That’s it – you nailed it.

rrpjr on November 11, 2010 at 6:19 PM

What if nobody accepts the invitation to this fiasco, hmmmm? Just because someone throws a party don’t mean ya gotta go.

Kissmygrits on November 11, 2010 at 6:23 PM

That said, this is an attempt by NBC and their masters in the White House to force Palin’s hand.

You don’t diss Nancy. You simply don’t. Palin can’t play coy with Nancy Reagan. Nancy is like Caesar’s wife.

Wait, Nancy is Caesar’s wife.

Palin will have to show. Period. If it was the Joe Blow candidate forum and Cattle Call, I wouldn’t care.

But it’s Nancy Reagan. A stone’s throw away from where her husband is buried.

Smart move by the Establishment. But on the whole, I don’t mind. I’m in favor of Palin getting in sooner, rather than later, anyway. As Nixon famously said to Ike at the Republican National Convention in 1952 when Eisenhower was considering whether or not to put Dick on the ticket, “Well, General, either sh*t or get off the pot!”

victor82 on November 11, 2010 at 6:27 PM

She’d laugh in your face, tell you to get over your complex and say that the contry has alot bigger issues to talk about now than your puny little anti-God beliefs.

Yes, your fantasy version of her would. In reality, she’d say something tactful about how wonderful it is that in America we have the freedom to disagree about such things and how it’s essential for people from all backgrounds to work together towards restoring the nation’s future. Would still be a fun question to ask, though.

Allahpundit on November 11, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Allah, it was you who first had the fantasy thinking that you would actually get to be a participant, let alone ask that question.

New Patriot on November 11, 2010 at 6:28 PM

If Politico is there, I hope Palin asks Ben Smith why he is such a Horses A$$.

[portlandon on November 11, 2010 at 6:06 PM]

I’d like to see Palin sit that one out but live Facebook it. Can Facebook link up live stream and chat utilities?

Dusty on November 11, 2010 at 6:55 PM

Is it RSVP or a free-for-all?

If its the former, they may get a no-show event.

If the latter it will be a fiasco.

ajacksonian on November 11, 2010 at 7:00 PM

I don’t know how this will turn out but can only say Palin will not play the game the way it’s been played. She will not be either buffaloed by the media or torqued out of her strategy by Nancy Reagan.

rrpjr on November 11, 2010 at 7:05 PM

Brian1972 on November 11, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Now that was funny!

KickandSwimMom on November 11, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Imagine it — the Townhall/Hot Air presidential debate. “First question is for Gov. Palin. Let’s talk about atheism.”

Does that mean Allah that you would be willing to leave the witness protection program if you could host a debate?

OhioBuckeye7 on November 11, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Imagine it — the Townhall/Hot Air presidential debate. “First question is for Gov. Palin. Let’s talk about atheism.”

I’d prefer to keep all questions about religion out of the GOP debates.

Conservative Samizdat on November 11, 2010 at 7:58 PM

@Jenfidel: Oh come on. The politicians you named would acquit themselves perfectly well if the issue came up. I can’t believe people are afraid even to broach such matters for fear of being ridiculed by the usual suspects.

Plus, you went from being an avowed secularist to a defender of the faith with lightning speed.

Seth Halpern on November 11, 2010 at 8:19 PM

Imagine it — the Townhall/Hot Air presidential debate. “First question is for Gov. Palin. Let’s talk about atheism.”

Does that mean Allah that you would be willing to leave the witness protection program if you could host a debate?

OhioBuckeye7 on November 11, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Nah. There’ll be a reel-to-reel tape recorder on the desk, which Ed will turn on and off at appropriate times. That’ll be Allah.

nukemhill on November 11, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Plus, you went from being an avowed secularist to a defender of the faith with lightning speed.

Seth Halpern on November 11, 2010 at 8:19 PM

Our great republic was founded by avowed secularists who were, for the most part, committed Christians.

And no, the question doesn’t belong in a presidential debate or any other presidential forum, no matter how much you, AP and 0bama might think so.

Jenfidel on November 11, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Plus, you went from being an avowed secularist to a defender of the faith with lightning speed.

Seth Halpern on November 11, 2010 at 8:19 PM

P.S. You shouldn’t need me to tell you that the atheism question is a loaded one.
We who are Believers know the agenda behind it by now only too well– it is to embarrass Christians, not to affirm our secular system of governance.

Jenfidel on November 11, 2010 at 8:33 PM

I don’t know how this will turn out but can only say Palin will not play the game the way it’s been played. She will not be either buffaloed by the media or torqued out of her strategy by Nancy Reagan.
rrpjr on November 11, 2010 at 7:05 PM

Thread winner there rrpjr!!!!!

PappyD61 on November 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Imagine it — the Townhall/Hot Air presidential debate. “First question is for Gov. Palin. Let’s talk about atheism.”

“What about it? Do you want a medal or something?” :)

ddrintn on November 11, 2010 at 11:41 PM

“First question is for Gov. Palin. Let’s talk about atheism.”

I thought you didn’t buy into Gov. Palin being a religious zealot. Otherwise that’s a snoozer of a subject.

Cindy Munford on November 12, 2010 at 1:09 AM

The wise and prudent course for any potential candidate is to respectfully decline with the classic dodge: “I have made no decision to seek the Presidency, so it would be inappropriate for me to participate in a candidates’ forum of any kind at this time. My heartfelt thanks go out to Mrs. Reagan, not only for the invitation, but for her quiet and dignified service to our country.”

Strategy: turn it into the “Ron Paul and other Losers” debate.

Adjoran on November 12, 2010 at 3:39 AM

Oh, noooo….My husband and I were just saying Saturday night, after a full day of football and more football, how nice it was to get through the entire day without a single political ad. (not that the violent and/or explicitly vulgar ads were any better, but still…) *sigh*

pannw on November 12, 2010 at 10:17 AM

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