Holding a GOP presidential campaign debate in spring
2012 2011 sounds like an astonishingly bad idea.
Former first lady Nancy Reagan announced plans Thursday to invite the leading Republican contenders to the first debate of the presidential primary season, to be held at her late husband’s presidential library and co-hosted by POLITICO and NBC News.
The debate, sponsored by the Reagan Presidential Foundation, will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., during the spring of 2011. NBC News will serve as the television partner for the debate while POLITICO is the online content partner.
Most Americans are not like you and me. They do not like political campaigns. They do not like two-year campaigns. They do not like debates for a general election roughly 20 months away, or a primary six months away or more.
If we have them in spring, then groups will be inviting these folks for additional events every month through 2011 and 2012. By the time anyone is actually voting, we will have had six or seven. Debates are a good thing, up to a point; when a cycle has 20 or 30, no particular debate stands out or ends up making much difference. There’s a reason that most presidential years have three or fewer.
As a campaign correspondent, I’m arguing against my own interest here. But for pete’s sake, let’s not exhaust the American people nor our candidates. There is plenty of time.