Tags: Presidential Debates

Massachusetts Democrats, Debating Who Will Kerry the Torch


Up in Massachusetts, Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe updates his scorecard on the Senate seat that will open up when John Kerry departs to become secretary of state:

  • Representative Ed Markey has lined up support from several big names, like Kerry and the Kennedy clan. For now, Markey’s usual campaign website is the barest of bones, announcing his Senate bid and asking for donations.
  • Markey has two potential big-name rivals still in the mix. Representative Stephen Lynch is working the phones to gauge support for a bid, and Representative Michael Capuano is not ruling out a campaign.
  • Perhaps the most intriguing indicator in Johnson’s roundup involves soon-to-depart Senator Scott Brown, who “is trying to engineer the selection of his deputy campaign finance director as the new chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, which would give him de facto control of over $700,000 in a party joint victory account — plenty to seed a special election campaign.”
  • The only other potential Republican Senate candidate mentioned is former governor William F. Weld.
  • While no one knows who Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, will appoint as the interim senator, his desire for a loyalist has some mentioning the name of his “outgoing Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez.”

Tags: Deval Patrick , Ed Markey , al-Qaeda , Scott Brown , Stephen Lynch , Presidential Debates

RNC May Try to Limit Number, Format of GOP Debates in 2016


Over on the home page, I have an interview with Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, mostly discussing the RNC”s new Growth and Opportunity Project, which is led by a five-member panel that will review their operations and strategies and those of the Republican party as a whole. Perhaps most intriguing and newsworthy was Priebus’s comment about an effort to limit the number of GOP presidential-primary debates and the format in 2016.

GERAGHTY: One of the intriguing points I saw raised in the discussions that this group has had is the recommendation of changes to the presidential-primary schedule. Are you hoping to see changes in how the primaries are set up?

PRIEBUS: One of the major topics that people discuss is the debate issue — controlling the debates and tying the nomination process to the debate calendar is something we’re going to look at. Now, we didn’t have that opportunity two years ago; there is no mechanism to tie the nomination process to the debate calendar. But we have that opportunity now. We can do that with a three-quarters vote of the Republican National Committee. Here’s a hypothetical. The RNC could hypothetically say, “Look, here’s the debate calendar. Here are the moderators. We’re going to have one debate a month starting on this day.” And adherence to the calendar will be a requirement to achieving the nomination to the presidency — either through bonus delegates or penalties of delegates subtracted. There is one major reason that a presidential candidate needs the Republican party: To get on the ballot in November, a presidential candidate must get a majority of delegates at a national convention to vote for him or her. If the presidential candidate can’t make that happen, he or she is not on the ballot. So that is one idea that we will be looking at.

If you have ten presidential candidates, and seven out of ten or eight out of ten will take whatever two-hour slot that is open to them, then you end up with a debate any time some cable network decides to hold one. You can’t control that situation. Our endeavor is to come up with some idea that helps us control that situation.

There were 20 debates last cycle, including seven between January 7 and February 22. More than a few analysts wondered if the seemingly endless succession of debates hurt the Republican brand, with the time and attention divided between nine candidates some evenings, and some of those candidates having little support.

Even if every candidate on stage was worth serious consideration, it’s easy to argue that having 20 debates, and sometimes more than one per week, made each individual debate less newsworthy and important. Many of the answers sounded the same (particularly when shoehorned into two minutes or less), and after a while they sounded like contests to see which candidates could denounce Obama the most, pledge genuine economic recovery the most, praise the Tea Party the most, and so on. Voters could learn just as much about the candidates in five or ten debates.

Quite a few conservatives didn’t like some of the moderators this time around (George Stephanopoulos asking the candidates about states’ banning contraception, etc.). Perhaps the RNC will contemplate a stipulation that no former Democratic lawmakers’ staffers may moderate one of the debates.

Tags: Presidential Debates , Reince Priebus , RNC

The Ultimate Lowering of Debate Expectations


In light of today’s memo from Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod, claiming Romney is the heavy favorite in next week’s first debate, here’s the likely next step in campaigns attempting to lower expectations for their candidate in the debates:

“As you know, our candidate goes into the debates as a heavy underdog.”

“You know he has a speech impediment, right? We’ve been lucky so far, most people haven’t noticed, but our expectation is that the night of the debate, he’ll freeze up, panic, and all voters will hear from him is a series of grunts, stammers, and incoherent noises.”

“There’s just no way of getting around it, our guy just falls apart every time he’s under the hot lights in a debate setting. Forget any previous debates you’ve seen. That was smoke and mirrors and a less-scrutinized environment. What you’ll see in the coming debate is an absolute meltdown that will embarrass him, the campaign, the party and the country. We fully expect his performance to not only surpass all previous candidate debate disasters, it will set a new standard for catastrophic, self-immolating candidate appearances.”

“During the first debate prep, he came out in his underwear. Yup, completely forgot to put on his pants – just a bundle of nerves, trying to remember any of his talking points, sweating profusely. He got halfway through thanking the moderators, couldn’t remember whether it was “Jim Lehrer” or “John Lehrer,” and he just started swearing a blue streak. Got so angry he kicked the lectern and it fell over, and the visuals were really bad because he hadn’t put his pants back on yet. When we tried to give him pointers, he just started screaming incoherently, finally got out a “I HATE YOU ALL!” and then ran off. We went into his room two hours later and found him under the bed, still crying inconsolably in the fetal position. We’re going to try to load him up with heavy tranquilizers to stabilize his wild, usually-uncontrollable mood swings and just hope for the best.”

“The other guy, well… you may think you know how good he is, but you don’t. You never hear about his awards for highest sales of ice to Eskimos in Alaska, year after year after year. I hear in his younger years, he used to seduce nuns just for fun. In his college years, he would go to the religious groups on campus and he would convert them to atheism, then he would go to the atheists group and persuade them that God existed.”

“In law school, he was constantly persuading his professors of the viewpoint they originally opposed, and by the end of the semester, the professors asked him to take over. Upon graduation, the dean said he really ought to be on the U.S. Supreme Court within the next few weeks. There were rumors that several Justices offered to retire to make room for him.”

“He’s like Svengali or something – just remarkably persuasive, every time he opens his mouth. The Dos Equis guy couldn’t stop talking about how interesting our opponent was. He speaks something like nine languages; we’re expecting he’ll make his closing remarks in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Tagalog, American Sign Language, Esperanto and Klingon.”

“He inspired candidate loyalty in Ed Rollins, got Bill to stop cheating on Hillary, and Al Sharpton lost all that weight after our opponent mentioned he was worried about his health. Half of his campaign staffers used to work for us; he just calls them up and asks them to come on board. One day, when asked for an autograph, he said he needed a pen. The president of Bic pens appeared out of nowhere and signed over the majority of his shares. People just love the guy, can’t stop thinking about ways to help him, and every word he says is eventually carved into stone by devoted followers. His last Post-It note was put in the Smithsonian, right next to the Gettysburg Address.”

“Now that you know what to expect on the night of the debate, we’re hoping that we can do a little better than expectations and that their guy will perform a little worse than expected.”

Tags: Presidential Debates

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