Here Comes the New (Old) Whine About GOP Debates

Just as the intended lynch mob aimed at Republican debate moderators began to disperse in disarray, we have a new source of candidate complaints and it’s the one that generated the fine old whine we heard earlier in the cycle: the thresholds set for participation in the Main and “undercard” events using national polls. What’s changed are the candidates most affected.

According to CNN Money, two candidates, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie, have been dropped from the Big Stage for failing to average 2.5% in recent national polls, and two others, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki, won’t even get a seat at the kiddie table because they didn’t reach 1% in any of them.

Huck can make an argument that he’s totally focused on Iowa, though he’s not exactly on fire even there. And Christie has obviously been concentrating his limited resources on NH, where the latest poll (from WBUR) has him in 5th place with 8%. But the New Jersey governor’s bigger complaint might be that his performance in the CNBC debate, and the video of his rap on addiction that has gone near-viral, show a campaign that has risen from the dead even as some (Jeb! Jeb!) have squandered every advantage.

The two “bumped” candidates pretty much just grumbling right now; this is, after all, Fox we are talking about, and there’s only so much smack you can talk about those guys if you are a Republican who wants to get free exposure on Ailes’ various networks.

The real howling is coming from Graham, who’s come up with this novel reason for being kept on stage to croak War! War! War! like some sort of Low Country raven:

“It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day,” Graham campaign manager Christian Ferry said.

I guess if the debate was being held a couple of weeks later a few candidates could salute the irony of turkeys being excluded. Maybe I should feed that line to Donald Trump.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.