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December 09, 2015

RNC: On Second Thought, We Need At Least One More Debate

I'm so old I remember when the RNC thought too many debates was part of the problem. Now it seems not enough debates are. So mark January 14th on your calendars for another debate on Fox Business.

This is an interesting development to say the least. Earlier this year the RNC had a very different feeling about the number of debates.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview Thursday that he regarded the 2012 debates as “an embarrassment and ridiculous” for the party.

“It was like a dog-and-pony show,” he said. “I think debates are important, but just because you’re a good debater doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good president. It’s just too much of an importance on debating.”


“I’m trying to limit the opportunity we have to kill each other,” he said. “I’ve always tried to be a person that sells what I control. I don’t like to sell things I don’t control. I don’t control people’s mouths, that’s for sure, but what I do control is the length of time we have to kill each other.”


Whatever could have changed the Chairman's mind?

Ohhhhhh right.

If you look at the Real Clear Politics national and early state polling averages and compare them to the dates of the four debates so far, you'll see there's some correlation between debates and the movement in polling. After benefiting greatly from first debate Trump has taken a hit after the last two (before rebounding) so this may not make much difference to him. What you really see is Marco Rubio tends to benefit from these events.

I wonder if the GOP has any interest in continuing that trend. Some seem to think so.

Another top campaign staffer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, accused the RNC of pandering to the establishment.

"My opinion is that this is panic in reaction to the unintended consequences of their decision to try and narrow the debates to begin with," he said.

"When they reduced the number of debates at the time, the thought was there would be an establishment leader. But now that the election's been turned on its head, with [Donald] Trump and [Ted] Cruz leading, now the establishment is panicking," he added.

Have you noticed the really odd thing about these debates is that Rubio hasn't been asked about his support for amnesty. Of course now that he's developed a plan for answering this topic, pretend he and Ted Cruz are two peas in a pod when it comes to amnesty, I'm sure he'll get a nice softball about it.

This is a risky move by the RNC. They are essentially now betting that it's better to try and take Trump down than worry he'll feel he's been treated unfairly and run as an independent.

The other gamble is that Rubio does much better than Cruz. Cruz certainly has benefited from the debates as well so he might manage to keep pace with any gains Rubio makes. And what if the next few debates devolve into a nasty Cruz-Rubio battle that Trump is able to stay out of and potentially benefit from ("look at these two politicians fighting over scraps. I'm focused on doing what I do...winning and winning for you!")?

So far the RNC's efforts to fight the last war by shortening the primary season and limiting debates (until they expanded them) have led to Trump. I'm not sure why they or anyone should think they suddenly have the right answer (from their perspective). But the fact that they are changing the rules in the middle of the game is telling.

They are scared and not just of Trump.

Added thought: They have announced the criteria for making the cut for this debate. Want to bet it's the most stringent yet? They will do whatever they have to make sure Rubio gets the maximum amount of time.

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posted by DrewM. at 09:21 AM

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