• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

ABC Cuts Also-Rans from Debates

Republican Debate Photo ABC has drawn a line and three did not make the cut.

ABC News is eliminating Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter and Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel from its prime-time presidential debates Saturday night because they did not meet benchmarks for their support.

The Democratic debate three days before the New Hampshire primary will include Iowa caucus winner Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Bill Richardson. It starts at 7 p.m. EDT. Before the Democrats take the stage in Manchester, N.H., Republicans Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will hold their own forum. ABC anchor Charles Gibson will moderate both debates.

The network set up benchmarks to narrow the field. Candidates had to meet at least one of three criteria: place first through fourth in Iowa, poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major New Hampshire surveys, or poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major national surveys.

ABC said the rules were quite inclusive, and that none of the candidates objected ahead of time. Its decision was made easier by Democrats Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropping out of the race Thursday night.

It’s hard to argue with any of these cuts; none of the cutees are factors. The inclusion of Ron Paul, who got a respectable 10 percent in Iowa, was also the right move.

There’s an argument to be made, of course, that the television networks shouldn’t be the ones making these choices. Poll-driven benchmarks are problematic, especially when 49 states have yet to allocate any delegates. Still, culling needs to happen in order to allow the voters to focus on the legitimate candidates and it’s not quite clear how else we would achieve this. The political parties have an obvious disinclination to telling their senators and representatives and governors that they’re not ready for prime time and they also want to avoid the appearance of hand-selecting the candidates.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    The inclusion of Ron Paul, who got a respectable 10 percent in Iowa, was also the right move

    And now the heads of all the Ron Paul supporters, who believed you were part of the great foreign/media/defense/establishment conspiracy against their hero, just simultaneously exploded. Now who’s going to clean up that mess?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    Michael,

    I was thinking the same thing. Of course I suspect the fall back position will be that their courageous stand against the (fill in the blank with your own personal demons) was a success.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Michael says:

    I was thinking the same thing. Of course I suspect the fall back position will be that their courageous stand against the (fill in the blank with your own personal demons) was a success.

    Nah, I’m sure they’re all perfectly reasonable people who will admit that their pre-concieved notions about James’s quality of thought were off the mark. They will then apologize for any misunderstanding and hurt feelings, and go on to contribute to a healthy discussion about… the future of our….great repu…

    Dang, couldn’t keep a straight face.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    As I noted in my commentary post this morning with Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, and Gravel gone from (or invisible in) the Democratic race much of the substance and practically all of the entertainment value will have been sucked out of the already lacklustre debates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Michael says:

    Dave,
    Yeah, but we still have Huckabee, Paul and Thompson to laugh at.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Tlaloc says:

    It’s hard to argue with any of these cuts; none of the cutees are factors. The inclusion of Ron Paul, who got a respectable 10 percent in Iowa, was also the right move.

    Seconded. The super-sized debates were mostly a waste. Time for a more focused approach.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Bruce Moomaw says:

    The latest Rasmussen Poll shows Paul running third (with 14%) in NH, ahead not only of Giuliani and Thompson but even of Huckabee. Which makes Fox News’ decision to keep him out of the debate even more peculiar (to anyone who doesn’t know Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, that is).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0