First GOP Debate Postponed For Lack Of Candidates

The first debate of the 2012 election cycle has been rescheduled from May to September, largely because there aren’t enough candidates yet:

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has postponed its debate for Republican candidates from May 2 to September 14.

The move, announced Wednesday in conjunction with cosponsors NBC and POLITICO, follows an unexpectedly slow start to the Republican presidential nominating contest.

Organizers worried that the May 2 debate, which was announced shortly after the midterm elections last November, would not attract candidates who will eventually get into the race but are delaying announcements for legal and political reasons. Only one top-tier candidate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has officially created an exploratory committee.

John Heubusch, the Reagan foundation’s executive director, said that pushing the debate back four-and-a-half months will allow “enough time for the full slate of candidates to participate.”

“The Reagan Foundation prides itself on sponsoring world class debates in which all of the major candidates in contention can make their point of view known to the widest possible audience,” he said in a statement. “Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May.”

The September 14 debate at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif., will still be moderated by “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams and POLITICO Editor-in-Chief John F. Harris. A reporter from Telemundo will also participate.

Sounds like a smart idea and, quite honestly, I’m glad we’ll be spared the “official” beginning of the 2012 race for a few more months The race  will likely get into full swing sometime over the summer at least in Iowa, though, since the Iowa Straw Poll takes place in August.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. legion says:

    Wow. If you can’t find a half-dozen GOP wannabees willing to shout crazy things at each other on network prime-time for free publicity, you’re not really trying.

  2. jwest says:

    With poll numbers like Obama is getting, republicans could win with anyone.

    By the way, how is it that any poll concerning Sarah Palin is posted within seconds of its release, but a poll showing Obama tanking is ignored?

  3. Smooth Jazz says:

    “With poll numbers like Obama is getting, republicans could win with anyone.

    By the way, how is it that any poll concerning Sarah Palin is posted within seconds of its release, but a poll showing Obama tanking is ignored?”

    Great point jwest. When Obama was flying high right a few months ago, this blogger was all over it, telling us he was a shoo-in for reelection, in between his multiple posts trashing Palin. Now that Obama’s incompetence is being reflected in dreary poll numbers, this Obama sychophant is quiet about it. I’m sure if Obama was at 52%, instead of 42%, he would make sure to get a post up about it.

  4. deathcar2000 says:

    for thoses poll numbers to mean anything you’ll need to hold the election tomorrow,

    so what are you looking at…….get moving!

  5. Tano says:

    I think it is pretty clear that the potential candidates understand perfectly well that their chance of defeating Obama is very slim. So for those who are not pushing seventy already, there is a roll of the dice coming up. Do you wait for 2016 when your chances of general election success would probably be roughly 50-50, though it will be a very tough primary field to fight through, or do you go now, against an easier primary field (since most of the heavy hitters will be waiting for ’16) and hope that lightning strikes (like say, Obama is found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy).

  6. deathcar2000 says:

    Tano, you seem like a fine American so dont take this the wrong way. These are the “Heavy Hitters”, there are no secret GOP candidates hide’n around (cept the closet maybe). so in closing you get what you see, no super duper electable GOPer waiting it out. no knight in shinning armor. nuntin nada zero ziltch

  7. ml says:

    It is too early to have the debate. They should have it next fall in 2012 before the November election. Not in the 2012 primary election.

  8. Kylopod says:

    But look at the following article:

    Poll gives edge to Republicans: The poll found that 49 percent of voters do not think Obama deserves to be re-elected

    After controlling Congress for the first time in four years, Republicans hold some powerful–if fragile–advantages over Democrats, and President Obama faces substantial hurdles in a re-election contest, according to a bipartisan poll released Tuesday.

    Obama, they found, faces an electorate in which 49 percent of the voters “indicate both that they do not believe that Obama deserves re-election and that they would not vote for him no matter who ran against him.”

    By 47 percent to 25 percent, voters said they had more confidence in the Republican Congress than Obama for “getting things done,” and by 41 percent ot 24 percent, they favor the Congress over Obama for “changing politics as usual in Washington.”

    A plurality of voters–49 percent–said Obama had done a poor job “following through” on campaign promises, and 43 percent said he had done a good job.

    It is clear that voters recognize what Republicans did in 2010 and they have few regrets. Democrats, including Barack Obama, have seen their advantages on major issues of the day seriously erode. The Republicans have much of the advantage now. They gained voters’ confidence on most issues and get strong ratings for keeping their promises.

    Hmmmmm…. Sounds discouraging, huh?

  9. Tano says:

    These are the “Heavy Hitters”, there are no secret GOP candidates hide’n around

    Well, actually thats not right. There is a reason that potential candidates like Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Mitch Daniels are not running. They don’t like the odds.

    If a Republican were to actually win in 2012, then the odds are that they might win reelection in ’16 (or so the thinking would go amongst these potential candidates), and then the odds would probably favor a Dem in 2020, with that Dem then favored for reelection in 2024 – so in terms of pure presidential ambition, the worst outcome for a potential Republican candidate would be for some other republican to win in ’12. That would mean there would not be another decent year in which to run for another 16 years. Far better for them if Obama won reelection – then there would be a reasonably good shot in 2016.

    So take this to the bank. Forget about looking at single isolated polls. Watch what these A-list Republicans do. If they have any sense that Obama is really vulnerable – then now is the time to go for the brass ring. If they wait, it is only because they calculate that GOP chances in 2012 are slim.

  10. deathcar2000 says:

    well by 2016 Rubio will be a little more seasoned but will still be a Cuban, which to most of America means Mexican, so a no-go inside the rebublican primary machine( as a side note my son is half Cuban, my ex-wife is Cuban and my current wife is Cuban). much love for the Cubano peoples both figurative and literally. Chris Christy is somewhat maligned as the Sharia govener, maybe that wil dissappear by 2016. Bobby Jindal, dont know what to say about bobby except that SOTU rebuttal was super painfull, teh wurst evar!!! and will come off as not as a Real American(tm). but as some foreign guy. I might be misunderstating the Republican primary voter (in 2016) but not as it concerns 2012.

    as a side note there’s already comment thread at stating the he, Bobby Jindal is not a “Natural Born Citizen” which is, iknow, CrAzY Freepers said whaaaa. he hasnt even thrown his hat in and they’re circling him ready to attack.

  11. deathcar2000 says:

    oh and there is already talk by the faithful the Mitch is a giant RINO, Timmeh is a RINO, Mittens is a RINO. The GOP isnt catching any breaks at all on the assumed fielded 2012 candidates.

  12. Kylopod says:

    I think there’s a decent chance that whoever wins the nomination will seek Rubio for the second spot. It would seem to Republicans like a smart move, at least on the surface. First, it would be a way of attracting the Latino vote that is currently running in droves from the GOP. Second, it would probably secure Florida for them. Third, it would give whoever’s the nominee a boost of Tea Party support, but without the crazy factor. If the nominee is an old hack like Romney, that may be important.

  13. TG Chicago says:

    Politico says:

    Only one top-tier candidate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has officially created an exploratory committee.

    Well, okay. But just because Newt doesn’t use the phrase “exploratory committee” doesn’t mean he’s not at the same point as Pawlenty. So are we actually going with Newt’s lawyerly fine distinction, or are we not considering Newt a top-tier candidate? (the latter is absolutely fine with me)

  14. deathcar2000 says:

    Kylopod, the republicans are losing the hispanic vote ie: Mexicain Americans. Most people make the mistake in thinking Latino= Hispanic= South American= Cubans, they are not monolithic. Trust me they are not.

    Mexicans really dont care if a Cuban is sharing the ticket. Same as Cubans not really caring much for Mexicans and see them as very different then themself. Dominicans arent at all like Cubans. and on and on and on

    The Irish dont see themself the same as Aussies who arent at all like New Zelanders who dont concider Americans the same as Canada (iens?)

    Moral of the story…..brown peoples be different.

  15. Kylopod says:


    That may be true (and there are other risks, such as whether Rubio will be compelled to flip-flop on his criticisms of the Arizona profiling bill), but you have to look at this from the GOP perspective. This is the party that gave us Michael Steele and Sarah Palin (remember all that talk about how Palin would attract disgruntled Hillary supporters?). Despite their rhetoric, they are far more mired in identity politics than Democrats.

  16. deathcar2000 says:

    identity politics and narritive, GOPers just love a good story. The political poles have reversed almost 180. Democrats did seem some what taken in by Identity Politics during 2008, Obama loved to inploy stirring retoric while Hillary couldnt get that plane off the ground.

    but jumping Jesus on a pogo stick do the Tea folks love a good story. they are driven almost completely by narrative and image, it aint even got to be true. Secular athiest radical Musims, ohh buddy do they eat that crap up. The Tea folks are just waiting for the reanimated corpse of Ronald “Ray-Gun” Reagen to fly in, cape a flapping and smite all the “commie pinko liberals”. beat-up that mean ol O’bammy and make it 1950 or 1850 for that matter.