Politico/NBC debate postponed due to reality

posted at 1:36 pm on March 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

When Politico and NBC announced the week after the midterm elections last November that they had already scheduled the first Republican primary debate for May 2nd, the news didn’t exactly set hearts aflutter on the Right.  Traditionally, candidates hold off on announcing their intentions until the summer before the primaries, although the wide-open races in both parties in 2007 prompted most candidates to announce in the spring or even mid-winter.  Hugh Hewitt openly called for GOP candidates to boycott the event, hosted at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, but in the end a boycott turned out to be unnecessary:

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has postponed its debate for Republican candidates from May 2 to September 14.

The move, announced Wednesday in conjunction with cosponsors NBC and POLITICO, follows an unexpectedly slow start to the Republican presidential nominating contest.

Organizers worried that the May 2 debate, which was announced shortly after the midterm elections last November, would not attract candidates who will eventually get into the race but are delaying announcements for legal and political reasons. Only one top-tier candidate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has officially created an exploratory committee.

An “unexpectedly slow start”?  That sounds like Reuters doing economic forecasts.  The GOP candidates — whomever they may end up being — just decided not to dance to tune of NBC and Politico, and leap into a longer, more bruising campaign than necessary.  The media can’t wait to start getting sound bites from Republicans in this cycle, for all of the obvious reasons.  There’s nothing unexpected about having no declared candidacies by the end of March, or April, May, or June, either.

Candidates need to connect with voters in person before committing to TV gigs, and the field needs to narrow down somewhat to have effective debates — or at least as effective as these formats allow.  Without formal declarations of candidacy, NBC and Politico might have had to put a dozen or more people on stage at the same time on May 2nd (and may still on September 14th), which in a two-hour debate would allow for less than 10 minutes per candidate and a lot of crosstalk.  That would guarantee zingers over substance, and potshots from the media rather than careful analysis of policy positions.

We don’t need to rush into candidacies, let alone the game-show antics we call presidential debates.  Let the candidates work the stump first to weed out the unserious and disorganized, then hold debates when people are ready to see some interaction.  I’d hold off until Thanksgiving, but then again, I’d hold off altogether until a format could be found that doesn’t reward potshots and slogans over thoughtful discussion of policy.


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Fox News has a debate scheduled shortly thereafter, no?

Patrick Ishmael on March 30, 2011 at 1:39 PM

I’d hold off altogether until a format could be found that doesn’t reward potshots and slogans over thoughtful discussion of policy.

you’re talking about the lsm here…that’s what they go tingly for…

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Dump Politico.

Rocks on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Patrick Ishmael on March 30, 2011 at 1:39 PM

yepper, but i can see them postponing as well…

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

They do not need to walk in to NBC/Politico’s trap, period.

kingsjester on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

I’d hold off until Thanksgiving, but then again, I’d hold off altogether until a format could be found that doesn’t reward potshots and slogans over thoughtful discussion of policy.

Preach it, Ed!

Kataklysmic on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Dump Politico.

Rocks on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

agree, if the dems can boycott fox, the gop should boycott this boondoggle of a debate…

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Going Rancid: How Politico’s debate plans became a quagmire.

idesign on March 30, 2011 at 1:41 PM

kingsjester on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

gotcha debate to the nth degree

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Boycott NBC and Politico…the White House boycotts Fox News all the time.

d1carter on March 30, 2011 at 1:43 PM

good

unseen on March 30, 2011 at 1:44 PM

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:41 PM

yes, ma’am. The same bunch calling Republicans, Extremists, want them to come to a debate that they’re hosting? There has not been such a gracious invitation sent out since the Indians invited Custer to the Little Big Horn.

kingsjester on March 30, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Where is the Republican party in this?

Shouldn’t they be making an effort to prevent the media from hijacking the Republican primaries into a Get Out The Vote campaign for Democrats?

sharrukin on March 30, 2011 at 1:46 PM

kingsjester on March 30, 2011 at 1:44 PM

proud to be called one…forgot all about janeane g *shudder*

i hope they have the sense to avoid them, but something tells me they will follow like sheeple it…

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:49 PM

“Only one top-tier candidate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has officially created an exploratory committee.”

Aaaahhh….that’s not exactly true now is it…?
I guess the Politico has never heard of Herman Cain or maybe they did and this was just a cheap shot to minimize him.
Anyway,Republican would have to be suckers to let anyone other than Fox News organize their debate.
The leftie media can go screw.

NeoKong on March 30, 2011 at 1:50 PM

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:49 PM

I hope her Criminal Minds spin-off tanks quickly. My wife tried to watch it and said it was too dark.

kingsjester on March 30, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Consider that NBC is no friend to conservatives, neither is politico.

It’s time we played our own schedules and not let the media decide for us.

Kini on March 30, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Darn it.
I would have enjoyed Mike Allen bouncing up and down with his eyes bugged out, slobbering. And his favorite target Sarah Palin right in front of him.
“Pttthhh pthh-pthhhhh!!!!, Governor Palin. Thhhhptth pthhhhh pthhhthpphh!”

Marcus on March 30, 2011 at 1:52 PM

kingsjester on March 30, 2011 at 1:51 PM

didn’t know she had a show…wow

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:54 PM

If and when there is a debate, let’s choose the moderator of our own choice and not some biased liberal with loaded questions.

Kini on March 30, 2011 at 1:55 PM

I think it is a great idea for those who might be thinking of running not to let the msm and good ole boy r’s get a head up on the entire field. Let those who run decide when and with what group THEY want to do the debate.
L

letget on March 30, 2011 at 1:56 PM

The GOP candidates should agree on a radical new debate format that excludes the MSM and other institutional liberal sponsors. I.e., a series of national debates hosted and run by C-Span, and regional debates hosted by local affiliates.

rrpjr on March 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

The Progressives, the Beltway Elite, and the MSM want to choose the Republican Candidate again so badly that they’re salivating at the prospect. That’s why they jumped the gun and scheduled this debate trap so early.

kingsjester on March 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

rrpjr on March 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

me likey

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Republicans must have a death wish if any of them are thinking of attending a debate run by the snakes at Politico. Where is the RNC on this? They should be the ones telling Politico ‘he11 no!’ They should be the ones working with more trustworthy organizations to set up a working schedule of debates.

slickwillie2001 on March 30, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Hopefully FNC gets the message or at least changes the format to a ‘forum’ where candidates get 15 minutes to hump their stump speech

phreshone on March 30, 2011 at 2:00 PM

I hope her Criminal Minds spin-off tanks quickly. My wife tried to watch it and said it was too dark.

kingsjester on March 30, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Can’t stand it.
Tried to watch. But it’s nothing the the other one.
It’s not good.
It’s not that it’s too dark. It’s actually just too stupid.

Badger40 on March 30, 2011 at 2:02 PM

The GOP candidates should agree on a radical new debate format that excludes the MSM and other institutional liberal sponsors. I.e., a series of national debates hosted and run by C-Span, and regional debates hosted by local affiliates.

rrpjr on March 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

THIS.

Badger40 on March 30, 2011 at 2:03 PM

The GOP candidates should agree on a radical new debate format that excludes the MSM and other institutional liberal sponsors. I.e., a series of national debates hosted and run by C-Span, and regional debates hosted by local affiliates.

rrpjr on March 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

That makes a great deal of sense.

sharrukin on March 30, 2011 at 2:04 PM

This is a media IQ test – if you are willing to let your opponents frame the debate, to the point of actually letting them run OUR debates, you are a certain loser in 2012.

Let the TEA Party Patriots set up the first debate, with Mark Levin (staunch) and Michael Medved (squish) moderating.

motionview on March 30, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Yesterday Sarah Palin sent another signal that she probably won’t enter the 2012 presidential race when it was announced she would be doing an event in Denver on May 2—the same day as the first Republican presidential debate.

Ms. Palin has agreed to appear in suburban Lakewood at a “Tribute to the Troops with Sarah Palin,” a fundraiser for the families of fallen soldiers in suburban Denver. John Andrews, a former GOP gubernatorial nominee who heads the Centennial Institute, says Ms. Palin will not accept a fee and all proceeds from the event will go to family members who have lost breadwinners in combat.

The political significance of her acceptance lies in the fact that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is set to hold the first debate among presidential candidates on May 2, an event moderated by Brian Williams of NBC and John Harris of Politico.com….

Making Sarah look more genius every day. :)

Psycotte on March 30, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Why would any Republican go to a liberal debate?

tarpon on March 30, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Hope Braian Williams isn’t too butthurt…

Psycotte on March 30, 2011 at 2:06 PM

GOP ADVICE

Use the words EXTREMISTS…….EXTREME to describe the DEMOCRATS and their agenda!!!!

EXTREME LEFT!!!

PappyD61 on March 30, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Dump Politico.

Rocks on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

agree, if the dems can boycott fox, the gop should boycott this boondoggle of a debate…

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Although originally I was calling for more potential candidates to commit to this debate, I can see it’s far better off they did not…and yes, I agree it was a “trap” in a way. I mean, just remembering the ’08 debates…the lefty media moderators were absolutely, abysmally partisan.

But we can’t have GOP candidates pulling a “liberal left” and refusing to go on a liberal MSM debate either. I hate to see the right resort to the same tactics of the left, just as a revenge.

But I do hope more candidates react like Fred Thompson did that time…when the large GOP field was asked for “a show of hands…” and Thompson said outright he wouldn’t play that…classic. This debate season, should a liberal moderator go out of bounds, and it will happen, candidates should be ready to pwn the heck out of him/her.

JetBoy on March 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Making Sarah look more genius every day. :)

Psycotte on March 30, 2011 at 2:06 PM

OT: I’m sure there’ll be a thread on Obama’s pathetic energy speech at some point today, but Palin’s already responded to it. She had some great zingers:

“The President said today, “There are no quick fixes.” He’s been in office for nearly three years now, and he’s about to launch his $1 billion re-election campaign. When can we expect any “fixes” from him? How high does the price of energy have to go?”

“The President says that we can’t “drill” our way out of the problem. But we can’t drive our cars on solar shingles either. We have to live in the real world where we must continue to develop the conventional resources that we actually use right now to fuel our economy as we continue to look for a renewable source of energy.”

Doughboy on March 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Hugh’s point about NBC having in power over the questions is very valid. NBC should have nothing whatsoever to do with it, they are the most biased news source out there.

Democrats won’t consider Fox at all!

Yet we always let them set us up.

petunia on March 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Why would any self-respecting Republican agree to an NBC/Politico debate? I don’t care when it is, don’t attend it. Period.

Redneck Woman on March 30, 2011 at 2:18 PM

The only audience that NBC/Polutico have is the Hatefilled Left. No Republican is going to win that nasty little minority over. Boycott the debate and only do one put on by Fox or a main conservative group or Hot Air!

BTW Palin is already booked on the 14th of September (or soon will be …hehehe)

CCRWM on March 30, 2011 at 2:23 PM

My apologizes for being redundant, but it isn’t my fault that so many actually got it right this time … /sarc

I’d hold off until Thanksgiving, but then again, I’d hold off altogether until a format could be found that doesn’t reward potshots and slogans over thoughtful discussion of policy.

I would not even bother going as I would prefer to go to a debate held by a reputable news source. Unlike the Democrats, I don’t support rewarding failure. :o)

DannoJyd on March 30, 2011 at 2:32 PM

But we can’t have GOP candidates pulling a “liberal left” and refusing to go on a liberal MSM debate either.

Why not? Why do they determine the format and the questions?

Where is that written?

I hate to see the right resort to the same tactics of the left, just as a revenge.

JetBoy on March 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM

It isn’t revenge, it is trying to salvage something useful out of what has become a Democrat hosted turkey shoot.

Why even have a debate?
What is the purpose?

If we want to find something out about the candidates then we should be asking them questions of substance. With DNC shills we aren’t going to get that. What we get are zingers and a verbal hunt for sound bites that can be used against that candidate.

sharrukin on March 30, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Do they think being manipulated by leftists into looking foolish is going to make moderates vote for them?

Give it up – if you can’t win, no point in playing.

jodetoad on March 30, 2011 at 2:33 PM

JetBoy on March 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM

they get away with the crap every 4 years…tired of it…need to sink to their level on this one…the lsm is going to bash them anyways, might as well enjoy it

cmsinaz on March 30, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Decline to participate until NBC gives a full accounting of all stimulus money given to GE and then funneled to their own coffers.

TugboatPhil on March 30, 2011 at 2:41 PM

It would be interesting to see Tim Pawlenty, or Newt Gingrich, take a potshot at Sarah Palin to her face, since they are the two that jump to mind as having done it in other venues. I suspect they would regret it.

Sarah Palin and Chris Christie face to face would be worth watching.

DaydreamBeliever on March 30, 2011 at 2:41 PM

What’s the difference when it is? Why would any conservative go to a debate hosted by Politico and NBC?

InterestedObserver on March 30, 2011 at 2:41 PM

PappyD61 on March 30, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Radical Leftist Extremists.

Has a nice ring, no?

Plus, has the added benefit of being true.

Bruno Strozek on March 30, 2011 at 2:42 PM

The GOP candidates should agree on a radical new debate format that excludes the MSM and other institutional liberal sponsors. I.e., a series of national debates hosted and run by C-Span, and regional debates hosted by local affiliates.

rrpjr on March 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

This is the way it should be…politico is after all the journolistas.

tinkerthinker on March 30, 2011 at 2:59 PM

I’d hold off altogether until a format could be found that doesn’t reward potshots and slogans over thoughtful discussion of policy

Since when do these Presidential so-called debates do that?

They are nothing but a TV show showcasing media people.

Moesart on March 30, 2011 at 3:01 PM

What about the Daily Kos / Media Matters GOP debate?

mjbrooks3 on March 30, 2011 at 3:13 PM

I’d hold off until Thanksgiving, but then again, I’d hold off altogether until a format could be found that doesn’t reward potshots and slogans over thoughtful discussion of policy.

That’s a great sentence, Ed. It’s too bad that attention spans and media sound bites don’t allow for it.

kim roy on March 30, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Let’s have National Review and Breitbart TV set up a democratic party nomination debate and see how far they get.

slickwillie2001 on March 30, 2011 at 3:16 PM

I have no problem with (R)’s doing a debate with lib talking heads as the mediator. I do however object that the lib mediators are going to the Reagan Library. Why can’t we get our own mediators to do a debate at the Reagan library? I can think of a few that could be tough and reasonable with questions. Megan Kelly; Brit Hume; Chris Wallace…just to name a few. Plus I agree that we need to find a format that will let the candidates explain their answers with more than a snarky commment.

lwssdd on March 30, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Sorry Politico, you only fooled those who usually get most other things wrong; the rest of us saw right thru you and are wise enough not to accept those poorly disguished premises which only trap the gullible.

Geochelone on March 30, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Disguised Not disguished

Geochelone on March 30, 2011 at 4:31 PM

I think they cancelled it because the first debate sets the benchmark for which everything in the following debates will be seen as too liberal or too conservative. Bachmann, Santorum and Trump would be setting the benchmark for “moderate and reasonable” in the first debate. The left obviously doesn’t want that.

Buddahpundit on March 30, 2011 at 5:15 PM

NBC and POLITICO. The GOP might as well have Al Jazeera and the Socialist Workers Party run their debate. As dumb as the GOP is, it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

Django on March 30, 2011 at 5:18 PM

It does seem like a late-forming field to me. Obama is going to run a billion-dollar campaign. Will our candidate be able to match him in spending and fundraising?

hawksruleva on March 30, 2011 at 5:21 PM

The GOP candidates should agree on a radical new debate format that excludes the MSM and other institutional liberal sponsors. I.e., a series of national debates hosted and run by C-Span, and regional debates hosted by local affiliates.

rrpjr on March 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

I like it.

hawksruleva on March 30, 2011 at 5:23 PM

The GOP candidates should agree on a radical new debate format that excludes the MSM and other institutional liberal sponsors. I.e., a series of national debates hosted and run by C-Span, and regional debates hosted by local affiliates.

rrpjr on March 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Good concept…

Gohawgs on March 30, 2011 at 10:26 PM