One of the many problems with the presidential debates has been that there are too many candidates on the stage.
Oh, you think I’m not being inclusive enough? Well then, have you demanded that Alan Keyes join the other eight Republicans at each debate? Why not? He’s running for president too. And what about anti-war (not to mention, anti-semite) candidate Jack Shepard? Or Vern Wuensche of VoteforVern.com? Or “Vermin Supreme”? Or Cornelius Edward O’Connor? Or any of the other official candidates for the Republican primary? Why not them?
With limited time before the election and during each debate, there obviously must be some discriminating criteria for inclusion on the stage. So what should it be?
Early on in the primary process perhaps everyone should be allowed on the stage. Even the guy who was told by the Angel of the Lord to run for president. But now–only about five weeks before the Iowa caucus it’s time to narrow the field.
Here’s the threshold that I would require to get a podium:
- Verifiable national polling at 5% or more, or at least 10% in either Iowa or New Hampshire
- $5 million on hand
- A contract between the candidate and the Party that if not selected for the GOP ticket, he will not run for president or vice president as an independent or with another party.
The first two criteria filter the pretenders from the contenders. Initially it’s not all about money. Mike Huckabee’s rise in the face of early anemic fundraising is proof of that. But at this late date, the fact is that winning the Presidency is a pay to play game.
The third criterion is a no-brainer. It is after all, the Republican primary. Additionally, a contract with a severe financial penalty guards the Party from being hijacked by a group of malicious troublemakers. (You think George Soros wouldn’t try it if he could figure out a way to use 527s to that end?)
Eight men on stage for a 90-minute debate, when you take out commercials and questions, means just 30-second answers to only a few questions each. That’s not enough time for more than a few clever sound bites scripted by a staff.
I’m not asking for too much; the Presidency is too important. Instead of just 30 seconds, at the next debate I ‘d at least like to see each of the viable candidates get their full fifteen minutes.