RNC considering Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin as moderators?

posted at 10:01 am on August 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

If Reince Priebus wants to apply pressure on broadcasters to reform both the presidenial primary debates and their own attempts to monetize Hillary Clinton for their own benefit, this is certainly one way to do it.  Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner picks up on a comment last week from RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer, who said in a Sirius XM interview that there are other fish in the sea — and Bedard’s sources say they are very big fish indeed:

Miffed that their candidates were singled out for personal questions or CNN John King’s “This or That,” when he asked candidates quirky questions like “Elvis or Johnny Cash,” GOP insiders tell Secrets that they are considering other choices, even a heavyweight panel of radio bigs Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

They told Secrets that they are eager to bring in questioners who understand Republican policies and beliefs and who have the ability to get candidates to differentiate their positions on core conservative values.

The move comes as several conservatives are pressuring the party to have Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin ask the debate questions. “It makes a lot of sense. We’d get a huge viewership, they’d make a lot of news and maybe have some fun too,” said one of the advocates of the radio trio hosting debates.

The benefits of this are readily apparent.  These three radio hosts command large audiences, far larger than a typical presidential-primary debate would attract.  Furthermore, they would attract the people that the GOP most needs to energize for a national election — grassroots conservatives and highly-engaged voters.  Partnering with these three would vastly improve the perception of the RNC, both for partnering with favorite New Media voices and for continued defiance to the mainstream media.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some dangers involved in this strategy, though, and perhaps none more than the larger-than-life nature of the talk show hosts themselves.  Especially with Limbaugh and maybe Levin as well, the candidates might come across as tepid and colorless in close comparison.  (Think of it in terms of the danger of picking a more telegenic and charismatic running mate for a nominee.) Limbaugh, Levin, and Hannity are entertainers and activists, who know how to work on the edge to drive debate and change.  The candidates may end up having to follow them to the edge to keep up if they aren’t disciplined enough to keep their balance, and that may produce some problems in a general election.

At the very least, it would be fun to try that in a format that allows candidates real time to answer in detail.  It can’t be worse than what we have now, anyway.  I’d still argue that the best format would be to eliminate moderators altogether and allow small groups of candidates — no more than four at a time, and preferably only two or three — discuss issues amongst themselves so as to get the most substantial look at their principles and approaches.  Maybe the RNC can do a few of both kinds, while keeping control of the debates entirely in-house.

Update (AP): Dave Weigel argued last week that conservative moderators would make for more compelling Republican debates. Would the entire field participate, though? Mark Levin told Cavuto a few days ago that he’d do what he could to ensure that Christie’s not the nominee; Limbaugh and Hannity may end up opposing Christie too. Would Christie show up for a debate moderated by them under those circumstances?

Update (Ed): I think Christie in particular would feel compelled to attend.  His attractiveness is based on his blunt style and willingness to take on opponents. If he ran away from Levin, it would undermine his entire raison d’être for Republican voters.  I think that’s also true for other candidates, too; voters would ask, “If he/she can’t handle Levin …”


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If they have to have moderators, I’d like to see Robert Spencer handle the national security stuff.

WhatSlushfund on August 15, 2013 at 12:39 PM

here’s a list

Brit Hume, Staurt Varney, John Stossel

ToddPA on August 15, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Do an Afterburner moderated debate

workingclass artist on August 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM

YES! I knew I was forgetting something; get Bill Whittle in the mix!! Hell, I’d prefer him to be a *candidate*, truth be told.

Midas on August 15, 2013 at 12:40 PM

ncjetsfan: “Hannity would probably insist on bringing Karl Rove with him”.

….& Frank Luntz… his audience sampling brought no validity to the 2012 election results.

Belle on August 15, 2013 at 12:41 PM

Levin, Sowell, Whittle… Cavuto and Limbaugh if needed… no Hannity, please.

Midas on August 15, 2013 at 12:42 PM

I think what most are missing is I don’t the article mentions those 3 would all moderate the SAME debate. Perhaps mixing it up would be a way to go for each debate. Perhaps 2 high profile names not perfectly in ideological lockstep to bring in viewers and a third would be a lesser nationally know writer / blogger from such places like HA/Powerline etc

Some of the high profile moderators could be

Limbaugh
George Will

Hannity
Ingraham

Levin
Malkin

Palin (It would at least be a ratings bonanza)
Rove?

veni vidi vici on August 15, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Please, please, please, PLEASE let this be true. Dear God…amazing.

libfreeordie on August 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

“No Levin please. As smart and good of a writer as he is, when he starts screaming and yelling with spittle coming out of his mouth, he will lose the intended audience (those who we are trying to convert to the conservative point of view).”

Dumb comment. You, obviously, are not a Levin listener. Does passion frighten you? It’s one of the things our side is missing.

ncjetsfan on August 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

libfreeordie on August 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Using the drop trolling method today I see.

Bmore on August 15, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Hey, ToddPA, that’s (2) votes for Stuart Varney!
How about Larry Kudlow?

Belle on August 15, 2013 at 12:47 PM

If Levin is being considered, then so should Savage.

Belle on August 15, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Palin (It would at least be a ratings bonanza)
Rove?

veni vidi vici on August 15, 2013 at 12:43 PM

She’ll be one of the candidates being questioned….and yes,
it WILL be a ratings bonanza.

ToddPA on August 15, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Hey, ToddPA, that’s (2) votes for Stuart Varney!
How about Larry Kudlow?

Belle on August 15, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Naw, I’ll pass on Kudlow…..but I would definitely be pleased
with Charles Payne.

ToddPA on August 15, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Bmore on August 15, 2013 at 12:45 PM

That’s because the perfesser got his educated idiot arse handed to him in the QOTD Thread this morning.

kingsjester on August 15, 2013 at 12:59 PM

here’s a list

Brit Hume, Staurt Varney, John Stossel

ToddPA on August 15, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Your list is better than those who’ve been mentioned. No ego’s from self described “entertainers” to get in the way.

BTW, I enjoy their “entertainment”.

Tater Salad on August 15, 2013 at 1:01 PM

here’s a list

Brit Hume, Staurt Varney, John Stossel

ToddPA on August 15, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Your list is better than those who’ve been mentioned. No ego’s from self described “entertainers” to get in the way.

BTW, I enjoy their “entertainment”.

Tater Salad on August 15, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Yes, you summed up this list nicely….my intention was
No egos, no Shock, No anything, other than straight forward
questions.

ToddPA on August 15, 2013 at 1:05 PM

kingsjester on August 15, 2013 at 12:59 PM

I saw that. ; ) P.S. Love waking to laughter. Lolz!

Bmore on August 15, 2013 at 1:08 PM

The one person I wanted to list badly, was HotAir
Founder MM.

But I’m afraid she would have them crying like little girls,
and then proceed to confront them on their Metro-ness,
and smack them around a bit….

Love, LOVE MM. I want her as White House Press Secretary.

ToddPA on August 15, 2013 at 1:08 PM

I do agree that we should have a black , a woman, and a Hispanic moderator just to be anti-identity politics, by never having them ask a loaded question about race or “women’s” issues.

Tater Salad on August 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Unlike the regressive side, I did not choose those people for their race or gender, just ones who came to mind who would do a good job of questioning candidates.

Madisonian on August 15, 2013 at 1:10 PM

I’d be perfectly happy with a debate moderated by The Five, or barring that, Gutfeld, Tarantos (in the leg chair, of course) and for good measure, Michelle Malkin. I love Rush and Levin (not a Hannity fan), but would be nice to have some younger blood asking serious GOPers serious questions. It’s a smear and erroneous, but the GOP is still considered the part of old, white men by much of today’s youth – having two white men over 60 and another who can be quite grating might not be the way to go. A stirring idea, nonetheless.

I’d watch – Rush could moderate a debate by himself, frankly.

King B on August 15, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Stossel would be an excellent choice because he attract the growing libertarian wing of the GOP. Happily he would alienate the big-government conservatives by asking them why bigger government is needed for their causes.

Tater Salad on August 15, 2013 at 1:20 PM

The gop leadership would rather be in the minority than be limited government conservative majority with ideas and free-market solutions.

It won’t happen.

PappyD61 on August 15, 2013 at 1:21 PM

What about Savage (he has a large audience), Monica Crowley, Charles Payne or Stuart Varney.
From the mouth of leftist James Carville: It’s the economy, stupid!

Belle on August 15, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Savage is a purse-carrying lunatic.

HiJack on August 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Limbaugh, Levin, and Hannity are entertainers and activists, who know how to work on the edge to drive debate and change.

Jeez. This is almost like a verbatim democrat description and assessment.

Chubbs65 on August 15, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Savage is a purse-carrying lunatic.

HiJack on August 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Maybe, but he is the only one who criticized Bush’s reckless spending for 8 years, unlike Rush. Hannity etc… (i think Levin did speak out against it)

OrthodoxJew on August 15, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Oh yeah, and Hesp to handle the anti-politically-correct-multiculturalism (PCMC) stuff.
http://hesperado.blogspot.com/

WhatSlushfund on August 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Strongly disagree with referring to Savage as a lunatic.
He’s super intelligent, & his predictions have been right on the mark. He was an early on advocate of publicizing Fast ‘n Furious, Benghazi, & the Chinook crash in Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans, many of whom belonged to SEAL Team Six. He puts his money where his mouth is, & has donated to many causes, including Lt. Michael Behenna, who is still in prison.

Would take a pass on Brit Hume. His speech always sounds muffled, & he may inadvertently put listeners to sleep.

Belle on August 15, 2013 at 2:09 PM

How about Michelle Malkin or Laura Ingraham?

paulus1 on August 15, 2013 at 2:13 PM

I’d prefer to use the conservative think tank folks — go for top scholars and analysts from Heritage, Manhattan, Hoover, etc. Treat these debates as very serious discussions about the future of the country — stuff on the level of the Reagan-Buckley Panama Canal debate.

That said, Limbaugh, Hannity, and Levin would be huge improvements on using CNN and NBC.

tigerinexile on August 15, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Rush?! Levin?! Would be most watched debates evah!

Akzed on August 15, 2013 at 2:57 PM

The only net that would carry these debates would be FNC.

victor82 on August 15, 2013 at 3:20 PM

They wouldnt last 5 mins with Levin. They would flee in terror of his constitutional brilliance.

ninjacoastie on August 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Belle on August 15, 2013 at 2:09 PM

I agree. I can’t listen to any of them with that ‘religiosity’ for the sake of mine sanity.
He is intelligent, but I think my meatball recipes are better… ;)

While there are disagreements on the virtues of them and their shows,
I happen to believe, they are all of one thing, aside from book sales, of course, America,
as we knew and the return to that most of us carry out our daily lives thinking will reappear.

Run-on sentences much? Ya caught me.

mickytx on August 15, 2013 at 6:21 PM

ninjacoastie on August 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM

My guess is, not happening, but 30 seconds tops before a prog would cry foul.

It would be the rude awakening needed for the LIV, which is oxymoronic LIV(e)

mickytx on August 15, 2013 at 6:25 PM

This is about ……. several … elections too late.

I guess better late than never.

But instead of “moderators”, I’d like to see a ‘Conservative panel’ made up of these guys (and others) that asks questions of the Democrat nominee.
Same thing for the other side … they make up a ‘Liberal panel’ of their choosing to ask questions of the Republican nominee.

listens2glenn on August 15, 2013 at 6:36 PM

How about Michelle Malkin or Laura Ingraham?

paulus1 on August 15, 2013 at 2:13 PM

I already nominated both upthread. Would be great choices.

whatcat on August 15, 2013 at 7:20 PM

No Hannity. He panders too much. I like “The most Radical Man on Radio”, longest running conservative little “r” republican radio host Mike Church.

livermush on August 15, 2013 at 7:27 PM

I would suggest Lars Larson. He is smart, conservative and carries a lot less baggage than these guys.

schmuck281 on August 15, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Further confirming the GOP can’t defend it’s policies against honest questioning..

or, at least

that’s how it will seem. As a liberal, I love the optics of this, but I’m confused as to how priebus thinks this will help them in any way.

Can we term this the “softball debate”? Because the media sure will. I’m sure there won’t be any hard feelings.

triple on August 15, 2013 at 10:44 PM

“Candidates, on a scale of 1-10, how badly has obama harmed our economy? Show of hands if you believe that liberals are mentally disabled? Mr. Paul, as we know most liberals hate god, how will you help keep christianity as America’s one true religion? Cruz? Dittos, rush.”

Yeah, can’t wait for this.

triple on August 15, 2013 at 10:48 PM

“Candidates, on a scale of 1-10, how badly has obama harmed our economy? Show of hands if you believe that liberals are mentally disabled? Mr. Paul, as we know most liberals hate god, how will you help keep christianity as America’s one true religion? Cruz? Dittos, rush.”

Yeah, can’t wait for this.

triple on August 15, 2013 at 10:48 PM

.
Obama’s just one man. Wrecking our economy took an orchestrated effort, that included a number of Republicans.

listens2glenn on August 15, 2013 at 11:42 PM

Belle on August 15, 2013 at 12:35 PM

.
Savage is a purse-carrying lunatic.

HiJack on August 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

.
What exactly is implied by “purse-carrying?”

Apologies for my naivete.

listens2glenn on August 15, 2013 at 11:46 PM

Any of these guys may actually embarrass the republican candidates because they would all look like the liberal milquetoasts that they are.

Suggest Maria Bartiromo and Megyn Kelly because its much better television.

virgo on August 16, 2013 at 12:13 AM

triple on August 15, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Is that you Candy Crowley? You obese mouth-breathing partisan?

Murphy9 on August 16, 2013 at 8:12 AM

libfreeordie on August 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Rush Limbaugh would provide a more unbiased debate and it would be completely devoid of political correctness.

Who the f#ck cares what you think anyway.

(And your underaged lover doesn’t count)

smoothsailing on August 16, 2013 at 2:27 PM

triple on August 15, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Your liberal hacks are better?

Do you hate Bush more than our foriegn enemies?

What gay cause would you champion to pay homage to the most oppressive movement ever?

Do you hate guns worse than the criminals who use them and would you be willing to piss directly on the Constitution to ban them?

Which country would you apologize to first as US President?

How would you make it possible for all US citizens to afford everything they want and not have to go to the trouble of working to earn any of it?

Do you hate Bush more than Satan himself. (Oh, that one is directed at all the democrat candidates who profess they believe in God. Like Obama for one)

Any questions I missed the liberals ask?

smoothsailing on August 16, 2013 at 2:35 PM

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