By Dave Andrusko
All eyes–or at least a lot of them–will be on the second Republican debate tonight, hosted at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library by CNN. The first debate on Fox News, August 6, drew huge ratings for cable television.
The so-called “undercard” will come first and include South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former New York Gov. George Pataki. But this presents an opportunity, if the experience of former Hewlett-Packard CEO executive Carly Fiorina is any measure. Her widely praised performance in the first Fox News debate elevated her into the first tier.
The “top” eleven, as measured by an average of public opinion polls, includes (in alphabetical order)former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Fiorina, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, businessman Donald Trump, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
With Trump and Carson comfortably ahead in most polls, it’s widely expected that there will many efforts tonight to compare and contrast.
But it should not be forgotten that Democrats will eventually have their own debates. Not surprisingly, “faltering frontrunner” Hillary Clinton is resisting calls to have additional debates. Here’s the lead from a story in POLITICO today.
Under the headline “Clinton, DNC face pressure to add debates,” we read this from Gabriel Debenedetti:
The increasingly public rift between Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others in her party’s leadership over the number of presidential debates is threatening to become more than just embarrassing to the DNC.
Currently, the DNC plans to sponsor only six debates and has “vow[ed]to punish candidates who try to participate in unsanctioned events,” Debenedetti reported. Not only are there few debates, only four will take place before the influential Iowa caucuses.
One of those who is unhappy is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. His campaign manager, Dave Hamrick, sent a statement to POLITICO that included this:
“I think every Democratic campaign and the DNC should have to explain why we are ceding the discussion and attention to the Republicans by refusing to the kind of robust debate schedule we’ve always had. …The question remains — if the DNC is still holding to their unprecedented exclusivity clause, are they doing it at the Clinton campaign’s request?”
According to Debenedetti , only a call from Clinton’s campaign–or the White House–could persuade Wasserman Schultz to change her position. k Share on Twitter
Referring to “many Democrats,”
And that, they say, reflects poorly on Clinton — who now maintains she would be open to more debates, but whose reluctance to press the issue with Wasserman Schultz appears to reflect her true intentions.
So far, according to the story, Clinton’s primary rival–Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders–has not pressed the issue. And the wild card remains Vice President Joe Biden, who is contemplating a run of his own. Debenedetti concludes
For now, the Clinton campaign remains in favor of keeping the number of debates low, say people familiar with Brooklyn’s thinking [Clinton’s campaign headquarters] , to avoid squandering her advantage as the best-known Democrat in the race — and to limit the opportunities for her rivals to rattle her on television.
But Clinton’s position might change if the campaign of Sanders – far ahead of O’Malley in the polls – were to push the matter.