Pros: If it happens, it’s an effortless night of content for conservative bloggers everywhere. Cons: C’mon, it’s not happening.
The Republican Party of Texas is making plans to host a presidential debate in Texas before the May 29 primaries.
Party Chairman Steve Munisteri announced Friday that all the major candidates except Mitt Romney have accepted the invitation. Munisteri said Romney, the frontrunner, is considering the offer…
“There is a significant chance that they will televise the debate even if we are lacking only one candidate. We already have commitments from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Senator Rick Santorum to participate in such a debate,” Munisteri said. “Both my staff and myself have reached out to the campaign of Gov. Mitt Romney and have been told that they are considering attending the debate.”
There’s no date or location yet, but note that Texas doesn’t vote for another two months. There are just six primaries left after that. Does anyone think, with Santorum already fading and Newt on life support, that the race will still be so unsettled, say, six weeks from now that it’ll warrant another GOP game show? If it does happen, Romney will be in a nasty bind about whether to attend. As the all-but-certain nominee, he can’t snub Texas. If the state breaks for Santorum, it’ll be a black eye for him as the media interprets it as one last bit of Romney rejectionism by the party’s base before the convention. If he does attend and Santorum and Gingrich beat up on him one last time in defeat — a “Not Romney” Alamo — then it’s a pointless exercise that’ll do nothing but weaken him at a moment when he’s focused entirely on Obama.
But maybe we’re reading this the wrong way. Here’s what a newly conciliatory Newt told a Wisconsin radio show today:
Gingrich told a Milwaukee radio station today that “we have all three been talking with each other all during the process because we all three understand that the number-one mission is to defeat Barack Obama.”
“So I talked to Santorum recently, and I think that’s just a part of the process,” Gingrich said…
“We are people that want to make sure the Republican Party candidate is capable of defeating a guy that we think would be a disaster to reelect, and I think you also see us focusing more and more attention on Obama,” Gingrich said today.
Maybe the point of the Texas debate is that it won’t be a “debate” but rather an opportunity for the four of them to show solidarity with Romney and spend 90 minutes collectively unloading on Obama. But if that’s the case, why hasn’t Romney accepted yet? And why then was Santorum slamming Romney again last night in California for being an Etch-a-Sketch candidate? Seriously, what am I missing? How does a last debate in May help the party unless it’s not really a debate at all?