The PJ Tatler

Hugh Hewitt wants Cain, Johnson and Paul banned from future debates

Though we are still about 18 months from the 2012 election and seven months or so from the first primaries, Hugh Hewitt wants the RNC to dictate who can and cannot participate in upcoming GOP presidential debates.

This is why the GOP needs to rethink its debate schedule and why the RNC should take over the operation of the debates and exile Cain, Johnson and Paul as well as every other candidate without a prayer of winning.  (Santorum is a long shot, but he has a realistic though small chance of winning the nomination, while the others do not.)  The seriousness of the fiscal crisis requires the GOP and its candidates to act seriously, and allowing marginal candidates to eat up time and distract from the enormous problems facing the country is not serious.

Gingrich and Romney sensed this and wisely avoided this event.  Governor Pawlenty who needs to build name ID and a donor base probably has no choice but to attend them all.

I like and respect Hewitt, but the past couple of weeks shows why he is so wrong on this. He wrote that post on May 6. Since that time, Cain has emerged as a long-shot but serious contender precisely because he attended the South Carolina debate and performed well. Gingrich, meanwhile, spent yesterday and today debating with himself and is now trying to save his candidacy from his own mouth. And in my opinion, Santorum is and will always be an even longer shot to win the nomination than Gingrich or Cain. He is a one two-term senator with no national base and, so far, no compelling message. Johnson and Paul have almost no shot at winning, but banning them isn’t necessary. Further, in taking such heavy handed measures as Hewitt suggests, the RNC risks driving one or more of Hewitt’s undesirables out into a third-party candidacy, where their effect would be marginal but potentially just enough to hand Obama four more years. And then there is the effect such tactics would have on Tea Party voters who are already skeptical of the RNC. Many of them would see this as the establishment kicking out insurgents candidates. It’s better to let the voters decide, and for the RNC to circle around the nominee once the voters have selected one.