Fox News has announced that they will be adding a second debate on August 6th for the lower tier GOP candidates who didn’t make the top ten. This 90 minute debate will take place in the afternoon as opposed to the “main event” in the evening.
It’s kind of like the “children’s table” many families have during the holidays. You get the same food, but you are eating in a hallway while the rest of the family is in the dining room.
In the end it wasn’t Rick Santorum’s whining that got Fox to add the second debate, it was the New Hampshire GOP, the tiny state with much more power in the primary process than its four votes in the electoral college warrants.
Things started to get confusing on Wednesday afternoon when the New Hampshire Union-Leader announced they would hold a candidate’s forum on August 6.
Publisher Joe McQuaid was quoted in the story saying that the qualification criteria established by Fox for the first debate—that candidates must rank in the top 10 in an average of recent national polls—”isn’t just bad for New Hampshire; it’s bad for the presidential selection process by limiting the field to only the best-known few with the biggest bankrolls.”
Actually he was trying to protect New Hampshire’s too-important role by hosting the first primary which often generates momentum for a candidate through some of the early primaries. By protecting the system Joe McQuaid was protecting the extra revenue he gets from political advertising every four years.
To avoid breaking RNC’s new debate rules which say candidates who participate in a non-sanctioned debate get banned from all future debate, the Union-Leader was going format their event as a forum. All candidates would be on stage, there would be no moderator or questions, instead each candidate would get up and make a televised version of their stump speech.
Earlier this week “56 Republicans — including former governors, State House leaders, and former party chairmen — signed a letter written to Fox News addressing both the criteria for which candidates qualify for the August debate and how the debate itself should be conducted.”
So folding to the pressure Fox added a second debate for anyone outside of the top ten who has at least 1% of the vote. It will be moderated by Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum. Strangely this second debate is reminiscent of the same “everyone gets a trophy” mentality that most of the candidates eschew.
Based on the Real Clear Politics average as of yesterday the candidates outside the top ten have between 1-2% support. I would suggest if someone only has 2% of the support they shouldn’t be invited to the debate anyway, they simply haven’t earned enough support.
During the last cycle there were too many candidates involved in the early debates, cheating viewers out of getting a real sense of each candidate’s position, personally I believe the panel of ten candidates is too large. The New Hampshire GOP and Fox News did a disservice to the party by acceding to this “everyone gets a trophy,” children’s table demand.