Time to prune the Republican presidential field to the top six: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Christie, Bush and Kasich

As of today, applying those criteria, the FBC top card debate would winnow the field to 7 candidates: Trump, Cruz, Rubio...

Three of the top 6 candidates are on the bubble:  Governor Chris Christie (NJ)...

Putting it bluntly, Republicans need to test front runner Trump, to see how he holds up, in front of the voters, when there is an extensive, in depth discussion of the issues.  Would he appear presidential ... 

Can Senator Cruz shine when the spotlight is on him, debating with ...

Can Senator Rubio demonstrate he would be the best candidate to take on Hillary-- when the field is small enough to focus on ...

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--Winnowing the field will help the best Republican candidate emerge victorious

Of the 13 current Republican Primary presidential candidates, it is time for seven to exit.  These are candidates who have zero chance of winning.  Their ideas are either of little value or are sufficiently represented by others—who have a much better chance of winning.  If they get out now, the debates and the day-to-day conversation will become more revealing of who can best represent the Republican Party.

This is the purpose of the primary—to facilitate the choice of the best Republican nominee--not to help the networks maximize profits, and not to help individuals sell books, have a vanity run or run for VP

--Good of Senator Graham to start the pruning process.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC), who left the field this week, could justify his being in the race because he was representing a sound and unique foreign policy position.  Senator Graham was polling at 1%, but his point of view that it is in the national interest of America to lead the fight against ISIS by putting 20,000 troops on the ground is a serious position that should be debated-- especially in light of Paris and San Bernardino.

However, that point of view is being discussed by other candidates and public policy advocates.  It is now important to remove the underbrush in the race-- so the American people can better judge the Republican presidential candidates with a chance of winning.

--And then there were nine candidates.   

The first of the remaining candidates to go should be former Gov. Jim Gilmore (VA), who never added anything to the race. The next three to go should be those who, along with Senator Graham, participated in the last undercard debate:  former Gov. Huckabee (AR), former Gov. George Pataki (NY) and former Senator Rick Santorum (PA).  The only function these three now provide is an occasional interesting idea-- but that does not warrant their diverting attention from candidates with a chance of winning.

Huckabee might argue he won Iowa in 2008 and Santorum in 2012.  That was then and this is now.  Further, neither ever had a chance of becoming the nominee of the Republican Party.  Collectively, Huckabee, Santorum and Pataki poll about 5% nationally.  These guys need to get out of the way so the electorate can focus on those with a possibility of winning.

--And, then there were six candidates.

Of the nine candidates in the last Republican “Main card” debate, three have no chance of winning: Senator Rand Paul (KY), brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina.  They each add something to the national discussion (See, below), but they are a “Detour and frolic,” when the Republican Party should focus on picking its strongest candidate.

--Goodbye to Paul, Carson and Fiorina

Senator Paul is quite articulate—primarily espousing a libertarian viewpoint and strong adherence to the U. S. Constitution.  But, those positions are well represented by Senator Cruz and Rand is an asterisk (2% nationally and in Iowa, Real Clear Politics (“RCP”) average) and 9th place in New Hampshire. Finally, no one will select Rand as a VP. So, goodbye Senator Paul.

Dr. Ben Carson is able to make some interesting arguments from time to time but lacks the depth on issues to be a serious candidate—for President or VP.  In that way, Carson is like Trump.  However, although Carson’s poll numbers were initially quite high (almost challenging those of Leader Trump) and are still decent (9 % nationally and in Iowa, 6% in New Hampshire--RCP average), the numbers are plummeting as his soft knowledge of the key issues is exposed and his supporters and their money flow to Senator Cruz.

Fiorina is at 2 % nationally and in Iowa, in 8th place in New Hampshire and her financial support is drying up.  If this were a debate, with candidates assigned points based on debating ability and issue knowledge, she would be the winner.  Sadly for Carly, that is not how it works.  She may be a serious candidate for VP nominee, but we have seen enough of Carly to help the Presidential nominee make that choice in the summer.  Her presence is no longer needed.

--Christie, Kasich and Bush, on their deathbed     

Three of the top six candidates are on the bubble:  Governor Chris Christie (NJ), Governor John Kasich (OH) and former Governor Jeb Bush (FL).  Each of these candidates has well known strengths thought to put them in the top tier.  However, none is performing well nationally or in the early four states [IA, NH, SC and NM], with the exception of New Hampshire, where any could have a surprise win or a strong second (the three are polling between 8 to 12% to Trump’s 26%).  If that happens, that one candidate should make it past the next cut-- to the Final Four. If not, all three should exit before Super Tuesday in March.

--Trump, Cruz and Rubio   

The Republican Party needs to focus its debates and discussions on the three top candidates-- Businessman Donald Trump (36%, RCP), Senator Ted Cruz (TX) (18%) and Senator Marco Rubio (FL) (11%) and perhaps on the bubble candidates-- for a while.

--Fox Business Channel debate on Jan. 14 will narrow the topcard to 7 candidates

The Fox Business Channel ("FBC"), sponsoring the next Republican debate on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, SC, seems to agree, in large part, with this reporter. FBC will narrow the field for the “Topcard,” debate to those polling in the top 6, nationally or the top 5, in Iowa or New Hampshire, as of January 11, 2016.  As of today, applying those criteria, the FBC top card debate would winnow the field to 7 candidates: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Christie, Bush and Kasich (but if Kasich tumbles in New Hampshire polling, he would fall to the undercard debate).

--FBC Undercard debate

The FBC will have an undercard debate composed of Fiorina, Paul, Huckabee, Santorum, Gilmore, Pataki.

The difference between the Fox Business Channel and this reporter is that this reporter would dispense with the undercard debate and send the four candidates in that debate, along with Carson ‘Packing.”  The FBC is interested in making money. Nothing wrong with that. But, the RNC should be interested in structuring the debates and national discussion to pick the best candidate, not to maximize profits for the FBC.

The Republican Party needs to get its debates and issue discussion focused on those candidates with a chance of winning the nomination.  That would be Trump, Cruz and Rubio.  Christie, Bush and Kasich can stick around for a while, but unless they show more of the “Right stuff and right numbers,” in the next month-- they need to say good-bye.

--Coming to the aid of the Republican Party

Politics ain’t bean bag.  Time for the RNC and the Republican debate sponsors to get serious.  The name of the game is picking the strongest candidate for the Republican Party.  It is time to focus the debates and national conversation so that the Republican Party electorate can do that.

Putting it bluntly, Republicans need to test front runner Trump, to see how he holds up, in front of the voters, when there is an extensive, in depth discussion of the issues.  Would he appear presidential when he is given a chance to debate the issues and demonstrate his judgment.  Can Senator Cruz shine when the spotlight is on him, debating with Trump and Rubio?  Can Senator Rubio demonstrate he would be the best candidate to take on Hillary-- when the field is small enough to focus on Rubio relative to Trump and Cruz?  Can Bush, Christie or Kasich demonstrate their ability to energize the base while attracting moderate Democrats and independents.  A smaller field will help voters answer these important questions.

The Republican Party is at an important crossroads. Now is the time for all good Republicans to come to the aid of their Party and help it make some important decisions. A smaller field will help them do that.  Can anyone dispute that?

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  • "when there is an extensive, in depth discussion of the issues"

    Real problem is that there hasn't, and with Trump in there there won't be. About the only real issues Trump has raised are deportation and maybe the flat tax. I don't think it is an issue that you and I know what schlong means and he won't admit that he doesn't, or that Hillary Clinton, unlike him, has had to use the bathroom in their 60-70 years of life, but Trump's base is eating it up. They also think Trump is running against Obama seeking a third term, or if not that, he is the anti-Obama instead of being Krusty the Klown, who also knows what schlong means.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack,

    Thank you for your comment. The antidote to bad speech is good speech. With fewer candidates in the debates and race, it would be much more likely that serious discussions of the issues would emerge.

    The Fox Business Channel's pruning to six or seven candidates is helpful, but the debate before Super Tuesday should only include the top three or four candidates. That would very much focus the issue/ability/leadership contrast between Trump/Cruz/Rubio and perhaps one other candidate. Real solutions for real problems. How is that for a debate promo!

  • In reply to Jeff Berkowitz:

    Here's a column republished in the Daily Herald indicating you won't get for what you asked in the penultimate sentence.

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