The Corner

One and a Half Cheers for a Two-Hour GOP Debate

CNBC agreed to the demands from the Donald Trump and Ben Carson camps that the next GOP debate be held to just two hours.

The bad news about this arrangement is that it’s likely some candidates will probably get even less time than in the last debate. The first GOP debate on Fox News, which ran more than two hours with commercial breaks (about an hour and fifty minutes without commercial breaks), resulted in Trump getting ten-and-a-half minutes and Rand Paul getting only four minutes and fifty seconds. Scott Walker learned the hard way in the past two debates that if you don’t jump in uninvited, you don’t get to speak very often. Presuming all candidates learned that lesson, we could see a lot more cross-talk and interruptions next time.

If you’re Trump or Carson, the front-runners, a two-hour limit is fine. You know you’ll get enough questions and time, and you’ll have fewer opportunities for a fatigue-driven gaffe or mistake.

The good news is that viewers won’t have to sit through three hours; it’s hard to argue that the CNN one didn’t drag on in that third hour. Throw in the preceding two-hour debate of the “under-card” candidates, and political junkies got to enjoy (endure?) about five hours of debate last time.

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz insisted that candidates get a chance to offer opening statements and closing statements. From the perspective of the candidate, the opening and closing statements are the only time they get to talk about what they want to talk about, instead of what the moderators get to talk about.

To CNBC, the “meat” of the debate is the candidates’ answers to the questions. To the candidates, the meat comes in those opening and closing moments, where they get to offer their big picture, inspiring visions –  “I believe the children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside…”


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