The first presidential debate, proposed by NBC News and Politico, has been postponed.
The debate, co-sponsored by NBC and Politico, was scheduled to take place May 2 at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. It will now be held Sept. 14.
Of the several major candidates believed to be running, only former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has even announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.
“Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May,” Reagan Foundation Executive Director John Heubusch said. “The Reagan Foundation’s first Republican presidential primary debate will move to the fall, allowing enough time for the full slate of candidates to participate.”
Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party are still scheduled to hold a debate May 5 in Greenville, S.C.
This is a good thing. While presidential campaigns have started earlier in previous cycles (George W. Bush declared June 1999; John Kerry announced in September 2003, Obama in February 2007), what’s good for campaign staffers and New Hampshire and Iowa television station ad sales (and campaign correspondents!) isn’t necessarily good for the candidates or the voters. For the candidates, it means an exhausting schedule of travel and events and increasingly desperate fund-raising begins earlier and lasts longer, making the race a test of endurance as much as a test of candidate quality.
We know that we’re in a quasi-campaign mode already, with candidates doing interviews and writing books and giving speeches. Let the high-intensity stuff like debates and attack ads and opposition research drops and endorsements wait. In the end, almost all of the campaign events of 2007, including the short-lived bids of Tom Vilsack, Evan Bayh, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, etc. — ended up being easily-forgotten footnotes.