Should more Republicans skip the debates?

posted at 10:45 am on October 28, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

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.

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Huntsman, Bachmann, and Santorum should leave the debates by dropping out of the race. Paul needs to be beamed back up to the mothership. The rest need to work on running Mittens out of town on a rail.

Laura in Maryland on October 28, 2011 at 10:49 AM

I am

jake-the-goose on October 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM

So true! Looking forward to the Lincoln-Douglas debate between Cain and Gingrich. Cain is able! Cain 2012!

milemarker2020 on October 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM

My argument has always been have a debate in friendlier environments…not some 3 ring circus sponsored by Politico or CNN.

search4truth on October 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM

If Perry can’t do the debates…then he needs to go. I actually like the debates. Debating is an American tradition from the Found Fathers. Then verbally debated and debated in writing.

Oil Can on October 28, 2011 at 10:53 AM

They should skip the MFM..

Prime Time! Debate!

Hot Air! Ace of Spades! Gateway Pundit! I Own The World dot com. Michelle’s Mirror dot com, Hill Buzz dot com. instapundit dot com. Daily Caller dot com. Big Government dot com. Michelle Malkin dot com.

/Nay, we cannot access.

Key West Reader on October 28, 2011 at 10:53 AM

The number of upcoming debates is ridiculous. It takes away from the needed ground game in early primaries, which have been moved earlier than ever.

That is the point that Perry was trying to put across.

They definitely detract from serious campaigns with “gottcha” questions and do not allow for enough time to answer or respond outside of sound bite quality.

Half a dozen debates would have been fine, especially if they each were each about general topics such as economy, foreign policy/security, and social issues.

Kermit on October 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM

My argument has always been have a debate in friendlier environments…not some 3 ring circus sponsored by Politico or CNN.

search4truth on October 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM

You got that right!

Laura in Maryland on October 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM

It might be a brilliant strategy if Rick Perry hadn’t already proven he sucks at them.

CrankyTRex on October 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM

If the debates were anything other than 60 second soundbite shows I’d vigorously defend candidates attending but they are pretty close to useless.

Wake me up if someone prods the top 3 or 4 into something like the Cain/Gingrich format. I am probably being set up to fail here but I am hoping that one actually works out.

Dawnsblood on October 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM

They should skip the MFM..

Key West Reader on October 28, 2011 at 10:53 AM

HA! MFM…me likey. I am sooooooo stealing that.

Laura in Maryland on October 28, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Should more Republicans TV viewers skip the debates?

Until we have a Republican debate with questions by Rush, Sean, Glenn, Michael Savage, Laura, Michelle, Ann, etc, there’s no use in watching.

listens2glenn on October 28, 2011 at 10:57 AM

If Perry skips a debate, he’s done.

TPaw? Palin? Bob Dole?

faraway on October 28, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Quit doing the debates where the moderators hate you…..

reshas1 on October 28, 2011 at 10:58 AM

These debates should be in the format of Family Feud with conservatives in one family and Romney on the other side … he could even bring along Boehner and David Gergen for moral support.

Then get Rosanne Barre to go around trying to kiss each of them…

we’d find out a WHOLE lot about them in that situation!

lm10001 on October 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM

The person who occupies the presidency has constant global attention with lots of people playing “gotcha” non-stop. A presdident needs the skills to weild this fact of being as an asset or it will be a drag during their entire presidency. Primary debates toughen candidates to the cheap-shots from pretty much the same media who will tear them down once they are President. If a candidate doesn’t handle it well during a primary, they sure as heck aren’t going to handle far worse once they become president.

rhombus on October 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Skip the debates unless the format changes. There is too little time to flesh out serious issues in depth and all the candidates end up looking foolish at one point or another. I like the presidential debates but the primary debates are circular firing squads.

Fallon on October 28, 2011 at 11:01 AM

I don’t think this is a good strategy for Perry, but understand his reluctance. These are not debates at all. No one gets to lay out a full point (we called it the “proposition” back in debate class) that they defend, listen to the rebuttal, then get a chance to counter the rebuttal. The way they are is little better than having an argument in a bar with your impaired friends. The problem with the two person format would be the howls of “it’s not fair” from those not invited. The “media” would be picking the front runners (which can lead to no good). All that said, it is what it is and is the only game in town. For Perry to even suggest that he may opt out of any of them opens him up for criticism. I mean, I try to tell my kids that you can’t win if you quit. The odds may be stacked against you, and it may not be fair, but you can’t win if you don’t play the game. Perry can’t win if he doesn’t participate and do a better job in each debate going forward. No one likes a quitter…

BillyWilly on October 28, 2011 at 11:01 AM

You got that right!

Laura in Maryland on October 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM

2nd that

cmsinaz on October 28, 2011 at 11:02 AM

time to whittle down the folks who are on the debate stage…

cmsinaz on October 28, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Then get Rosanne Barre to go around trying to kiss each of them…

we’d find out a WHOLE lot about them in that situation!

lm10001 on October 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM

What’re trying to do to me? I just had breakfast, and I’d rather keep it down, thank you.

listens2glenn on October 28, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Didn’t we just have a this same discussion on the same topic yesterday and the day before?

gophergirl on October 28, 2011 at 11:03 AM

My argument has always been have a debate in friendlier environments…not some 3 ring circus sponsored by Politico or CNN.

search4truth on October 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM

What I prefer is a neutral environment. It does as much harm to have cheerleaders moderating and asking questions as having individuals hostile to everything the candidates stand for (as is the case now).

The debates are a joke as currently set up. I would prefer to see more candidates abandoning them in favor of forums where they can actually say what they believe (well, except for Mutt Romney) instead of dealing with constant hostility.

MrScribbler on October 28, 2011 at 11:04 AM

There could be as many as 18 debates in the primary, not all of which are televised or televised only locally. Skipping some of the minor debates makes sense. There’s more risk than gain. Because of Perry’s poor performances, it does appear he’s afraid to debate. He should never announced he would avoid some debates.
But these 7,8 or 9 person debates are awful. With that many candidates, Jim DeMint’s Labor Day debate format would be the perfect format, but of course there wouldn’t be any fireworks between candidates.

cartooner on October 28, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Then get Rosanne Barre to go around trying to kiss each of them…

lm10001 on October 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM

That’s OK. I didn’t feel like eating lunch anyway.

Thanks.

No, really….

CurtZHP on October 28, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Back in the 3 Network era, when there was really only ABC, CBS, NBC and everyone watched The News, the networks would air a story on each candidate practically every night. These days there are many more channels, and different methods of getting the news. The only thing on those three channels I watch regularly is SNL. Add in FOX and it’s The Simpsons. It’s so diffuse these days that to generate any interest you have to create a media event. That’s what these debates are, media events. The days of ABC News leading off with Candidate A for X Party’s nomination going into a coffee shop in Small Town New Hampshire, meeting the folks and making a statement, that everyone in the country is going to watch that evening are over. The debates are simply a way of generating the buzz that there used to be when media was much more limited and concentrated. They are horribly done though.

rbj on October 28, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Yes. They should only debate in conservative forums moderated by leading commentators and thinkers; from George Will to Dennis Prager to Rush Limbaugh/Mark Levine. So what if the Major media won’t televise it — stream it.

AH_C on October 28, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Wah! Wah! The media doesn’t treat us fair. That’s not going to change. Deal with it candidates or get lost.

rhombus on October 28, 2011 at 11:10 AM

What I prefer is a neutral environment. It does as much harm to have cheerleaders moderating and asking questions as having individuals hostile to everything the candidates stand for (as is the case now).
MrScribbler on October 28, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Does anyone here believe the persons listed in my preceding post,

listens2glenn on October 28, 2011 at 10:57 AM

are going to act like cheerleaders?!!!

They would ask the REAL relevant hard questions, and then hold the candidates feet to the fire if any of them attempted to ‘dodge’.

listens2glenn on October 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

I think the candidates should get together and agree to cut at least two or three of the debates. There are three debates within a six day stretch of November, and another week in December has three debates in Iowa alone! That does seem kind of overkill seeing as how Florida was once again allowed to screw up the primary calendar and force the caucuses to move up a month.

However, none of the candidates will be skipping any debates unless Cain and Gingrich go along with it, and that is not going to happen.

Lawdawg86 on October 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

New rule: moderators have to eat 4 McRibs before they are allowed to ask their ridiculously liberal question.

search4truth on October 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Again, this is an unusually debate-heavy season, mostly because Mitt Romney would like the candidates to spend the early days of the primary campaign preparing for debates instead of campaigning. Romney has the recognition and the org to get away with this, while the other candidates do not.

Sekhmet on October 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Fallon on October 28, 2011 at 11:01 AM

+1

cmsinaz on October 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

I have said this before, and will say it again…Perry is unique because he damaged himself in prior debates. Romney could probably skip every debate going forward, and it wouldn’t matter. Perry does not have that luxury.

neoavatara on October 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM

The number of upcoming debates is ridiculous. It takes away from the needed ground game in early primaries, which have been moved earlier than ever.

That is the point that Perry was trying to put across.

Kermit on October 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Bull.

Perry has the type of money that he can afford chartered air travel as much as he might need. If Rick Santorum or Herman Cain said this, I might concede they have a point… they aren’t in financial shape to be jet-setting. But that is a weak sauce excuse from someone with $15 million at his disposal.

JohnGalt23 on October 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Being able to think on your feet and articulate policy are essential political skills which are tested in open debates. Open thoughtful debate is one of the hallmarks of western democracy.

Not wanting to debate or being against debates should be a glaring warning to voters and free thinkers everywhere.

lexhamfox on October 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I think the candidates should get together and agree to cut at least two or three of the debates. There are three debates within a six day stretch of November, and another week in December has three debates in Iowa alone! That does seem kind of overkill seeing as how Florida was once again allowed to screw up the primary calendar and force the caucuses to move up a month.

Lawdawg86 on October 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

great idea

cmsinaz on October 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM

New rule: moderators have to eat 4 McRibs before they are allowed to ask their ridiculously liberal question.

search4truth on October 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

You make it sound like eating 4 McRibs is some sort of task…

JohnGalt23 on October 28, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Sekhmet on October 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

That’s a pretty good point, I never thought of that before.

Hmmmmm . . . . . . . . . . : \

listens2glenn on October 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Forget debates. They should have a hot dog eating contest.

faraway on October 28, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Lawdawg86 on October 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

I’d actually like to see them keep the number of debates. But what they should do is follow Newt/Herman’s example. Do a random draw of 2 candidates, head-to-head, Lincoln-Douglas style. There are 8 candidates, which makes for a round of four debates. After the first round, rotate, so everyone is debating someone else, and so forth. 16 debates allows for four rounds of four… more than enough to fully flesh out what everyone feels about the matterd of the day.

JohnGalt23 on October 28, 2011 at 11:19 AM

The number of upcoming debates is ridiculous. It takes away from the needed ground game in early primaries, which have been moved earlier than ever.

That is the point that Perry was trying to put across.

Kermit on October 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM

I agree that there’s too many debates, but if that was the point Rick Perry was trying to make, then he failed at communicating it properly.

Knucklehead on October 28, 2011 at 11:19 AM

but if that was the point Rick Perry was trying to make, then he failed at communicating it properly.

Knucklehead on October 28, 2011 at 11:19 AM

So what else is new?

KingGold on October 28, 2011 at 11:23 AM

There have been way too many silly debates. I would appreciate a couple of good debates, but this is a three ring circus and I don’t know that I will watch any more of them.

bopbottle on October 28, 2011 at 11:24 AM

The debates have been getting excellent ratings, so y’all can whine away, but the American peeps are not with you on this.

Again, this is an unusually debate-heavy season, mostly because Mitt Romney would like the candidates to spend the early days of the primary campaign preparing for debates instead of campaigning. Romney has the recognition and the org to get away with this, while the other candidates do not.
Sekhmet on October 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

OMG. Meet Sekhmet, Tin foil hat asshat of the day. Who knew that Romney not only owns the “establishment” but dictates the programming for CNN, Bloomberg, Fox…yadda yadda yadda!

Buy Danish on October 28, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Debates?

I have seen no debates.

Auditions for some sort of garbage but no debates.

Opportunities for sound bites and quips, perhaps, but no debates.

When do the debates start?

coldwarrior on October 28, 2011 at 11:25 AM

The odds may be stacked against you, and it may not be fair, but you can’t win if you don’t play the game. Perry can’t win if he doesn’t participate and do a better job in each debate going forward. No one likes a quitter…

BillyWilly on October 28, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Good post, except I would argue that debating less is more like a team playing to their strengths and abandoning their weakness. If you can’t get your run game working, rely on the passing game. It isn’t quitting, just changing strategy.

cartooner on October 28, 2011 at 11:26 AM

followed by a wave of wait-maybe-this-is-brilliant rebuttals.

Ed loves Perry.

Perry’s declaration on debates doesn’t pass the laugh test even on second thought.

Wait a sec….Ed hates Perry.

csdeven on October 28, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Nominate me, I will get creamed in the debates against Obama, I swear it!

astonerii on October 28, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Forget debates. They should have a hot dog eating contest.

faraway on October 28, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Bwawney Fwank isn’t running.

csdeven on October 28, 2011 at 11:29 AM

At this point, seems Katy Perry could do a better job than Rick Perry.

coldwarrior on October 28, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Sekhmet on October 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

That’s a pretty good point, I never thought of that before.

Hmmmmm . . . . . . . . . . : \

listens2glenn on October 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Seriously? You think the implicit allegation that Romney controls the debate schedule and dictates his demands to broadcasters like CNN, Bloomberg and Fox is a “good point”?

Buy Danish on October 28, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Talk about a coronation!!!

Perry just gets the nomination? He doesn’t have to prove he can think on his feet or deal with questions in real time?

We remake all the campaign rules because we want one inferior candidate over all the others.

This is ridiculous.

You people just keep your address in the insane under belly of conservatism.

You new definitions for words. You make new rules for campaigning and just Crown Rick Perry King of the underbelly. All this because you hate Mitt Romney. You have given up your dignity for hate.

But you are a side show.

There is a real campaign going on and you are on the fringe. You haven’t even picked up a real story for months now.

You are going to be really surprised when nothing you paid attention to had anything to do with anything!!!

petunia on October 28, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Should more Republicans skip the debates?

Yes!

d1carter on October 28, 2011 at 11:34 AM

The debates are great, can we double the number? Really, they serve as free advertisement for all the candidates. Voters are really getting to know this group well. As for the debate format, you have to have a lot of poise, and be well prepared for this format. I want to know who and who doesnt have that as well.

paulsur on October 28, 2011 at 11:35 AM

You are going to be really surprised when nothing you paid attention to had anything to do with anything!!!

petunia on October 28, 2011 at 11:34 AM

And you’re going to be really surprised when Mr. Inevitable loses to Obama.

cartooner on October 28, 2011 at 11:39 AM

I bet there are many people that can debate circles around any of these candidates. Why don’t we just draft them to run for POTUS? They obviously would make a great president!

cartooner on October 28, 2011 at 11:42 AM

A candidate has to show me he or she can deliver when things are tough. The debates are one way to show me. Flawed as they are, they are high-pressure and require multiple skills required of a leader. Ducking the debates shows me something too. It isn’t good.

SurferDoc on October 28, 2011 at 11:43 AM

GOP Presidential Debates Score Huge Ratings. But by all means, skip them and watch your poll numbers skyrocket./

Buy Danish on October 28, 2011 at 11:43 AM

How about we just cancel any remaining debates associated with Washington Post (for their outrageous Rubio smears), MSNBC, Politico, and Daily Kos (has the field consented to that debate yet?). I’m tired of hearing questions that come from “reasonable” media outlets that are loaded with liberal-to-center-left bias, this is a Republican primary. These debate moderators want to talk about how many uninsured children there are in Texas, or whether Mitt Romney understands the grievances of the OWSers, etc. Its silly. Remember when NBC brought on the the “special guest moderator” with the Hispanic surname to ask the question about illegal immigration? Yeah.

We should be talking about Fast & Furious, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s role in the financial crisis, the failures of Obamacare, Solyndra and the stimulus’ other venture socialism flops, reforming entitlements, Fast & Furious, and Fast & Furious. Also, our candidates should be talking about Fast & Furious.

Lawdawg86 on October 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM

It is all a game. A stupid game but the only game that really matters. Life is not about ducking the stupid game it is about playing the stupid game better than the other guy. You can laugh how stupid the game was after you win.

SurferDoc on October 28, 2011 at 11:54 AM

It is all a game. A stupid game but the only game that really matters. Life is not about ducking the stupid game it is about playing the stupid game better than the other guy. You can laugh how stupid the game was after you win.

SurferDoc on October 28, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Right on . . . and if you quit the game you can only lose.

rplat on October 28, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Forget debates. They should have a hot dog eating contest.

faraway on October 28, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Are you a Gingrich fan? Regardless of his political skills, he has more belly at the bar than the others!

Steve Z on October 28, 2011 at 11:59 AM

After the election how often does a president use the “skill” of debate? I’m not against them but they should be weighed by other skills and accomplishments. And there are far too many of them.

Cindy Munford on October 28, 2011 at 12:11 PM

If Perry skips some debates, he’ll have only the man in the mirror to blame if he loses. A candidate can have the best energy or tax plan out there, but if he can’t sell it to the voters, he won’t get the chance to implement it. Retail politicking, one-on-one with voters is small-ball, and speeches before a few thousand supporters don’t win NEW people over. A debate before a TV audience of hundreds of thousands (or millions) allows ALL the candidates to get their messages out to lots of voters.

Perry’s unwillingness to debate reminds me of President George W. Bush in 2005 trying to sell his plan to allow people to divert payroll taxes into private accounts. He traveled across the country giving speeches to thousands of cheering fans about how wonderful his plan was, while Democrats got on network TV and told MILLIONS of people how they would “save” Social Security by doing nothing.
Guess what was done?

All candidates love the thrill of a cheering crowd, but voters not in the crowd don’t hear the candidate. There’s a much bigger crowd behind a TV camera–the candidate doesn’t hear them, but they hear the candidate. You want to connect with voters, get on TV.

Steve Z on October 28, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Lawdawg86 on October 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Excellent post. I agree with all of it. And yes, does anyone think in the Dems aren’t going to boycott any debate sponsored by an entity that isn’t left leaning in the 2016 cycle? They did in ’08 with FNC. Our guys just say “Thank you, sir. May I have another?”

Kataklysmic on October 28, 2011 at 12:25 PM

These “debates” are merely small circuses for the leftist media to garner film clips and sound bites for the general election. We’ve had enough, we’ve seen enough and now, nobody watches them any more. They are ludicrous, inane, and a waste of time. Except for the left.

ultracon on October 28, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Huntsman, Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum should leave the debates by dropping out of the race.

Laura in Maryland on October 28, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Fixed a typo for ya

hanzblinx on October 28, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Not a fan of the debates. I’d rather listen to the candidates speeches, where they can talk about their policies uninterrupted (for the most part) and take questions from the audience. Forget these media know it all types and their agenda driven debates, I don’t want to listen to them.

scalleywag on October 28, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Would Perry have a point if he hadn’t had some bad debates? Sure! Does he have a point despite having some bad debates? Again, sure! So why is this thread turning into a Perry-bash-fest?

I seriously wonder at times the vitriol some commenters on this site have for Perry. I would daresay he is more reviled than Romney the RINO. Only those with axes to grind refuse to see what Sekhmet alluded to:

Again, this is an unusually debate-heavy season, mostly because Mitt Romney would like the candidates to spend the early days of the primary campaign preparing for debates instead of campaigning. Romney has the recognition and the org to get away with this, while the other candidates do not.
Sekhmet on October 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Don’t you all find it a bit strange that quite a number of these debates were hurriedly placed on the calendar once Perry performed badly in the earlier debates and it became known that debating was not his forte?

Considering Romney did all he could to play shenanigans with the primary dates, is it that strange to hypothesize that he had a hand in this?

TheRightMan on October 28, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Lawdawg86 on October 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM

This.

d1carter on October 28, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Being able to think on your feet and articulate policy are essential political skills which are tested in open debates. Open thoughtful debate is one of the hallmarks of western democracy.

Not wanting to debate or being against debates should be a glaring warning to voters and free thinkers everywhere.

lexhamfox on October 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I agree however as someone pointed out, these are not real debates- they are sound bite contests and whoever comes up with the snappiest line wins. That is not what I am looking for in a president. There is nothing like this in the real world of debating, nothing as silly as these formats. They are just not debates, by any stretch.

kg598301 on October 28, 2011 at 1:30 PM

In the end, though, the debates show who is most prepared to debate in the general election

I have to be fair to Ed, as I have ripped some of his columns and what I thought were “hit” pieces on Romney, and so I have to say this was a good article. I agree that the only way for the candidates to rise or fall is by the debates. How many of us really know what Romney is saying in SC (?) or Perry in IA or Cain in TN or wherever any of these guys are day-to-day. We don’t and so the debates are for the time being the best way to hear everyone gathered at once on their beliefs and policies. If Perry decides to skip any of these he will only be hurting his candidacy and come across as not serious…which I already believe when they let it slip that his wife had to talk him into running, then the whole sleep issues, and now there are too many debates!? I think he has already dug a hole that is unrecoverable.

g2825m on October 28, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Lawdawg86 on October 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Looks like many of us are concurring with lawdawg here…

I have always wondered why (and know why) but I still ask myself why we are not talking about REPUBLICAN issues and what we feel is important to us and see where candidates land on these issues.

Hardly any talk about Fast and Furious (in my state), Solyndra and others like it, Freddie and Fannie- the root of much of our problems today, and so many other issues more important than whether Perry had a painted rock outside his huntin’ grounds or whether Romney knew that an employer he hired had hired illegals!

g2825m on October 28, 2011 at 2:21 PM

How about having a debate in this manner (at least while we still have 8 candidates):

First Debate:
Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann

Second Debate:
Paul, Perry, Cain, Huntsman

Third Debate:
Romney, Perry, Santorum, Paul

Fourth Debate:
Cain, Huntsman, Gingrich, Bachmann

etc etc and they could hold the debates close enough for candidates that got fired upon to respond without too much time had passed. This would give each of the candidates up to 3-5 minutes to speak and actually say something coherent (or we hope with most) and it would give the others ample time to respond rather than 30 seconds.

This also may expose those that do not have anything more to say than a 30 second bite so it works both ways. Right now I agree with almost everyone that the way these are set up, and the problem is we have too many candidates, there just is not enough time for everyone to get a fair shot to answer questions and explain their positions.

What are your thoughts?

g2825m on October 28, 2011 at 2:33 PM

I think we should either have REAL debates or stop the whole silly “debate” charade.

A REAL debate asks a single question and allows all sides to argue it: each participant gets an equal amount of time for argument and rebuttal. If the question is serious and important, the debate can be extremely valuable to the viewer: he gets exposed to many sides of the issue, and is able to see how the participants approach a problem.

The media circus which is incorrectly called a “debate” is simply a forum for “gotcha” journalism by left-wing moderators masquerading as journalists. As such, it is almost completely useless: the questions are often unserious and unimportant, and the event only demonstrate how the participants interact with a hostile or (rarely) a friendly questioner.

There are much better uses for both candidate and voter time than watching phony “debates”!

landlines on October 28, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Generally I could give a flying poo about the debates, especially those moderated by liberal media types (which is just about all of them). Interviews on the Sunday TV News shows are also pretty irrelevant since they are pretty much all hosted by a liberal media clown of some sort. These are just ‘gotcha’ shows.

I get more valid info about who candidates are and how they think from interviews with conservative talk show hosts — many of them ask tough questions, but these questions aren’t so much gotcha questions, rather they are questions about defining policy and clearing up questions others have raised.

IMHO, only validity of debates hosted by liberals may be preparation for debates in the general election — if one even chooses to go there. I’d hold out for a balance of debate moderators between conservative and liberal media types, which would pretty much mean no debates…

drfredc on October 28, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Fixed a typo for ya

hanzblinx on October 28, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Thanks for correcting that. How embarrassing for me.

Laura in Maryland on October 28, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Huntsman, Bachmann, and Santorum should leave the debates by dropping out of the race. Paul needs to be beamed back up to the mothership. The rest need to work on running Mittens out of town on a rail.

Laura in Maryland on October 28, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Exactly. But none of them should agree to debates sponsored by leftist media. No more MSNBC or Brian Williams or Anderson Cooper. It’s self-defeating for Republicans and only provides ammunition for Obama, the Dems, and the MSM.

Common Sense on October 28, 2011 at 4:30 PM

So true! Looking forward to the Lincoln-Douglas debate between Cain and Gingrich. Cain is able! Cain 2012!

milemarker2020 on October 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM

If Newt makes it adversarial at all, Cain will look pretty foolish. Though Newt won’t win the nomination, he is an exceptional debater and has way more depth and ideas than Cain. The only one who can hold a candle to him at it is Romney. If Newt doesn’t make it adversarial… how is it a “debate”?

Newt has been wanting one of these for years now. I guess Cain just wants publicity.

scotash on October 29, 2011 at 2:53 AM