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The Shame Of The Crowded Field

By Matthew Yglesias on October 12, 2011 at 9:14 am

"The Shame Of The Crowded Field"

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The ridiculous thing about these Republican debates is that you keep needing to wade through this vast field of candidates who are essentially doing book tours in order to hear the actual presidential candidates debate. Rick Santorum is not going to be a major party presidential nominee. Nor will Herman Cain. Michele Bachmann had a brief moment when it kinda sorta maybe looked like she could possibly break through, but she didn’t. The actual choice Republicans are making at the moment is whether Rick Perry or Mitt Romney will run against Barack Obama. This is an interesting question, and I for one would like to see the relevant information presented rather than a lot of nonsense from pizza salesmen and Newt Gingrich.

Initially I thought the lack of mano-a-mano debates was helping Perry, since Romney was clearly the superior debater but Perry could kind of hide behind all the other nutters and muddy the waters. But now that Romney seems to have the upper hand against Perry, it’s the reverse. Perry would really benefit from a high-risk, high-reward opportunity to reset the narrative about his skills as a candidate. Based on what we’ve seen so far, even people who prefer Perry on the merits must be worried that he’s too shaky to be a reliable standard-bearer against the incumbent.

Meanwhile, on the issues, nobody said “Slovakia.” There was this weird exchange about whether or not Romney would support a new bailout if, hypothetically, the European situation were to cause some unspecified insolvency of American banks. But why not ask a question about the actual situation? Should the president be phoning up Slovak parliamentarians?

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