Dear GOP WH candidates:
I hope you take the time to review the last two debates, on CNBC and CBS. Not for the purpose for critiquing yourselves ( your staff has already done that, I'm sure) but rather for a far broader perspective: to think how much better the debates could be, for each of you AND for the Republican message, and brand, as a whole.
It appears that we're undergoing some sort of a sea-change this year, as debates appear to be overshadowing retail politics in many states. The audiences are growing, the voters, especially the GOP base, are watching in record numbers, yet you allow yourselves to be manipulated by the media. In case you haven't realized it, you guys ( and lady) are THE SHOW. They need you. And given that they are still so many debates yet to come, you have plenty of leverage to have the long overdue changes put in place: if they don't agree..just cancel out one.
Let's look at Saturday night's debate on foreign policy. You can't control the moderators, and in this case it was a draw. One very competent, and knowledgeable person, Major Garrett, and one idiot, Scott Pelley.
But why, WHY agree to a format where only the first 60 minutes are are televized, and then everyone is supposed to go turn on their computers. CBS was showing a RERUN of NCIS, fer pete's sake..they couldn't bump that. You should have refused.
Next time, and for as long as there are still going to be 7-8 of you on stage (and more about THAT later on) demand TWO HOUR DEBATES. PERIOD. NON DEBATABLE. Otherwise what happens is that the top tier ( and you all know who you are), are DIMINISHED by being on stage with the others, having to chime in like pet seals when the lights come on and off. The second tier ( and you also know who you are) are forced to pelad and whine like petulant children, begging the teacher to call on me. Which makes you look small and petyy, and NOT very presidential.
And you all look , well, sorry...stupid..constantly getting cut off by the moderator.
So, can I suggest that each of you have a senior staffer get on a conference call with the RNC chairman, and work out a NEW set of ground rules, and present them as NON-NEGOTIABLE for all the upcoming debates.
Here's my suggestions:
1. Two hour duration.
2.TWO minutes for each candidates initial response. This is important for several reasons. For those who have something important to say on the subject, and have the ability to communicate it to the audience, it will be helpful. Those who have nothing substantial to say, and/or have difficulty saying it cogently, will be exposed. They will BORE the audience, and their polls will soon reflect that. Let's hear Ron Paul rant for two minutes about how we have to be nice to Iran and the terrorists.
3. On major topic questions ( like "what would you do to fix health care"..(instead of the Money Honey's insane 30 seconds) after the first round of two minute replies, there should be a second round of ONE minute comments, whereby each can elaborate on a position, or comment on what another said.
4. A wild card round. At the end, each candidate gets 30 second to ask a question of ANY other person he chooses, and that person wil have 1 minute to respond.
I'm sure others will have somewhat different takes on this, or other ways to twerak it. What should be obvious is that what they're doing to you know, what you're voluntarily subjectign yourselves to, isn't working, and is actually hurting all of you individually, and the Republican message as a whole.
And at some point, and this is for you top tier candiates, you're going to have to find some way to get the others OFF the stage with you. Those that aren't gaining traction, instead of being forced to drop out because they can't raise money, they can hang on for next week's debate.
Guys, this is hurting you. It's got to change. I think that after the next 2, maybe3 debates, you have to insist that anyone not polling, say 8% in the RCP average won't be invited. It's time. Someone has to be the adult here and say, as Erick does in his weekly Horserace..
"Michelle Bachman (and/or) Rick Santorum, (and/or) Jon Huntsman..you're NOT going to be the Republican nominee.