Thursday, August 6, 2015

Debating the Debut Debate Details

Fox News will be host the first of the Republican Presidential debates.  Currently there are 17 announced candidates for the Republican nomination. Rather than have a dozen and a half politicos get little more than three minutes on center stage for a “debate”, Fox News announced that it would only host the ten top national candidates based on polling.

This criterion caused a crimp in some candidate’s modus operendi.  Candidates like former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) can try to use their national fund raising prowess and success to sustain a long primary battle. Whereas insurgent candidates, like Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina, hope that national exposure from being in the GOP debates may spark a surprise early victory and generate a groundswell that leads to the nomination.

Other  credible Republican candidates, however,  may employ other strategies and have different (if unspoken) ultimate goals.  Donald Trump relishes his time in the limelight. It is unclear if Trump is preparing for a sustained primary effort, but Trump’s bluster on illegal aliens combined with the tragic San Francisco killer has made sanctuary cities a real issue in the campaign.

 Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) launched a quixotic campaign for President.  Aside from being Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) “reasonable Republican” sidekick, Graham has little following outside of the Palmetto State.  Nevertheless, with his 32 years of military service along with being on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Graham seemed to be well positioned to be a champion for War Hawks and a voice for a robust military in the primaries.

Graham’s road to success to the nomination would be to make a splash during the debates, catch fire during the early February 20th South Carolina primary then do well during the SEC primaries on March 1st, which includes North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.  That would give Graham a voice at the table in Cleveland.

The Fox News debate rules moot that strategy.  Graham is not in the top ten while publicity phenomenon Donald Trump is.  So Graham has acerbically opined about Fox News rules.

Pretty funny lines, from a reputedly pretty funny guy in private.  But Graham’s Presidential campaign announcement had all of the ardor of an accountant. It is dubious if his political gift is to draw crowds or attract enthusiastic audiences.

Unlike the 2012 cycle, where there were over twenty debates, this time the venues will be fewer and supposedly the GOP will be more careful about the hosts to avoid set ups, like George Stephanopolis’ out of the blue contraception question. So getting on-stage for the big event is vital for a periphery presidential candidate like Graham.

According to the latest poll by The Economist and YouGov.US, Graham only garners 1% and obviously does not make the top ten cut.  What is interesting is former Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) also did not make the prime time debate, despite rabble rousing against the current frontrunner Donald Trump.

At a time when military readiness issues, such as responding to the not yet announced Iran Nuclear Deal and the continued draconian cuts of armed forces personnel, Senator Graham chooses to make his mark by complaining about Fox News debate rules and how Trump is killing the Republican party.  It’s a pity that Lindsey Graham  has shown his lack of leadership skills on issues of crucial importance to his campaign and the country.  If Graham is smart, he would use his time at the “Kiddie Table” to set the table about issues that he his passionate about rather than berate the system.

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