This week's debate on CNN was the best one to date. Focused on one area, and blessed with intelligent questions from Heritage and AEI fellows, it provided those watching with a solid basis to compare the candidates.
And unlike previous debates, where we were treated to the spectacle a candidates complaing about not being asked sufficent questions, or squabbling about an extra 30 seconds to respond, there was a high level of decorum.
The early debates overall have been good for the Republicans. People are watching, in record numbers, and for the most part, all have focused on attacking Obama's record rather than each other.
But now, it is time, if not past time, for the field to be thinned out. To continue to have all eight on stage, competing like trained seals for a question, and responding to colored lightbulbs, detracts from the seriousness of the process, and can't do the ultimate nominee any good; but may cause an embarassing moment.
At present, there are TWO more debates schedules before the Iowa caucuses:
Dec 10/ABC News
Dec 15/FOX News
There is also supposedly one in Las Vegas, with NBC, sometime in December, but that one is questionable, as most candidates are boycotting it. As they should.
Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum have both staked their viability on doing well in Iowa. Bachmann continues to publicly predict a win...Santorum, that he's going to surprise people..
After they both finish in the low single digits, directly refuting their own predictions of success, they should be excluded from any future debates.
There are two debates before the NH primary:
Huntsman has staked all on doing well in NH. When he does not, he should also be excluded.
South Carolina is the first real test. It's a conservative state, in the south, which is the heart of Republican strength. A field of five ( or less) is optimum for the two debates before the SC primary.
I doubt that anything will be done to trim the field for Iowa and NH, but I would hope that the SC Republican party, and especially Gov Haley and Sen DeMint, would now start to plan a strategy to guarantee that only candidates with a reasonable show of strength will participate in those debates.