The Campaign Spot

Howard Dean In Secret Meetings To Limit Democratic Debates!

How can this be? I thought Howard Dean was all about taking back America! Openness, and not having limits, and engaging with the people! And yet now we learn that over steaks (!) he secretly met with representatives of the Democratic campaigns and designed a plan to limit the number of primary debates!

A flood of invitations is besieging Republican and Democratic presidential candidates alike this year, thrusting them into a complicated political vortex as they struggle to balance their own needs with the demands of sensitive and powerful debate sponsors whom candidates are eager not to offend…
After a private dinner of Democratic campaign managers at a Washington steakhouse last month with Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, the party agreed that starting in July it would limit debates to one a month through the end of the year. Mr. Dean, blocking for his candidates, will choose the sponsors.

Actually, someone was going to have to make a decision in this vein; campaign schedules need a bit of structure, and if there’s three dozen debates before the first caucus, then no debate really matters. But the limits, and the manner in which the decision was reached, seem like moves that would irritate the netroots. Gov. Bill Richardson laments in that article that the debates are one of the few ways that a lesser known candidate – like himself – can break through the noise. Limiting the debates is one more way to more or less ensure that the Democratic nominee will be named Clinton, Obama, or Edwards.

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