by Jules Witcover
A new party entity called the
There's much to be said for such logic, considering how the multicandidate
To run that course successfully, starting in 2011 through 20 Republican debates, the once-moderate Romney felt obliged to transform himself into a card-carrying conservative, a metamorphosis that was contradictory and debilitating. In the end, he was left an unconvincing political commodity, blamed by many in the party for the defeat.
In the process also, the trotting out of the army of squabbling misfits, from Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, showed the party in an unappealing light over too long a time.
Furthermore, the tail of the dog, the television and cable news outlets, often was in charge, setting the schedule, format and duration of the debates, luring the candidates into unfavorable circumstances they found difficult or risky to avoid. The national exposure was too tempting to turn down.
So Priebus is now trying to bring some order to the chaos by recommending an RNC takeover of the whole shebang, even to the point of proposing penalties against presidential campaigns that don't comply. He threatens the loss of national convention delegates by violators.
The problem, though, is that presidential candidates aren't likely to subordinate their own campaign strategies and self-interest to the desires of the national party committee. They will, as in the past, do what they believe is in the best interests of themselves as determined by themselves and their most trusted political advisers.
In the past, efforts by either major party to impose the loss of convention delegates on violators of party dictates, such as the dates of state primaries, have been brushed aside. Traditionally early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire have always ignored such threats, and now are routinely kept in the front of the calendar.
As for having the
The report recommends that no more than 10 to 12 primary-period debates be held in the next cycle, starting no earlier than
All these proposals unrealistically assume a willingness of 2016 presidential candidates and their campaigns to make their own decisions on the dates, times, participation in and ground rules for the debates, and of the television outlets to cooperate without the input they had in 2012.
Chairman Priebus deserves credit for trying to bring greater order and good sense to the whole process, and good wishes for the attempt. But he probably will need a lot more than that to get the
RNC Power Grab | Politics