Originally published: November 17, 2011
Last updated: December 21, 2011 - 12:23pm
[Commentary] Presidential debates, says NBC News Political Director and Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd, are now part of the winnowing process. Instead of going to a small state and wooing caucus-goers, Republican presidential hopefuls are going on national cable to see if they can resonate with the voters.
With 26 GOP debates currently scheduled between May 5, 2011, and March 19, 2012 (17 of them before the Iowa caucuses), the fight for the party’s nomination is now played out in living rooms and dens around the country as much as in diners, candidate coffees and small events in Iowa and New Hampshire. On television, this year’s debates have drawn more than the handful of political junkies and campaign professionals who once tuned in. They have become big events. The question is whether the steady stream of debates that we have already seen really helps us understand and compare the candidates — or whether a series of one-on-one, in-depth interviews with a thoughtful questioner, such as Charlie Rose or Jim Lehrer, might teach us more about the candidates than a dozen cattle calls.
[Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report]
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