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Hey, Fox? Lindsey Graham thinks your rules are stupid

Hey, Fox? Lindsey Graham thinks your rules are stupid

“I think this is a a dumb way to weed out the field.”

Navigating a large and dynamic primary field can be tense for even a top-tier candidate, but what about those who fall in the middle (or bottom) of the pack?

Those who haven’t yet risen to the top of the pool are facing extra pressure heading into an early debate qualification process that some say puts too much emphasis on celebrity and name recognition, and not enough on viability as a candidate.

Today Lindsey Graham lashed out on Fox News, and against Fox News, about the network’s plan to use national polling data to limit participation in debates. Watch:

Long story short? Graham isn’t happy—and he’s naming names:

“I think this is a a dumb way to weed out the field,” the South Carolina senator said Friday on Fox. “I don’t mind weeding out the field over time but a national poll tests celebrity. Big states have an advantage versus small states. People who’ve run before have an advantage over those who haven’t. It’s July, for god sakes. So, a national poll is a lousy way in my view to determine who should be on the stage and quite frankly I resent it.”

Graham, also faulting the Republican National Committee, which is sanctioning the debates, said the current debate format rewards higher name recognition and diminishes the importance of early primary states New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.

“It’s all about money,” he said. “And what you’re going to reward over time is the people with the most money and your’e destroying the early primary process and I think that’s bad for the Republican Party.”

(Bonus: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has also criticized Fox’s decision to limit participation. Unfortunately for her, she conveniently forgot that her own network has played a similar role in culling the democratic herd.)

Graham is right about national polls; he’s also right about money playing a huge part in who leads in those polls. That being said, we have a field of 17+ candidates, all demanding a podium. When Hemmer pressed Graham about an alternative solution, Graham hedged, saying he’d “find a way” to come up with a better system.

Fox, on the other hand, found a way. (Just not a way that benefits every candidate.)

Fox’s system, and RNC’s sanctioning of it, is of course a disappointing development for long-shot candidates who could quickly rise to “viable candidate” status given enough time in front of the camera. Fox is offering a pre-debate forum for candidates who don’t make the final cut for the debate, which is something, but will it be enough? Probably not.

Graham seems determined to protect the early primary process, but that process is already in a death spiral. The demise of the Iowa Straw Poll, and a rise in interest in states like Texas as opposed to New Hampshire, have led me to believe that, while the candidates’ expectations have remained stagnant, the process is evolving.

Unfortunately for candidates like Graham, even an “evolved” primary process may not be inclusive enough to include candidates desperately seeking a chance to outshine their more well-known opponents.


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Sammy Finkelman | July 10, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Lindsey Graham is a serious political figure in the Senate, but he’s not a serious presidential candidate right now.

Lindsey Graham is a left wing butthole. SC should be ashamed of themselves.

So let Graham host his own debate with 16 people on the stage, and buy the time to get it on television, so people can watch each candidate talk for a total of two and a half minutes for the whole hour.

With this many people, there’s simply no good way to do it, short of having a four hour debate, which nobody would sit through.

Henry Hawkins | July 10, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Graham gets more in-person national exposure on FOX News than just about anyone in DC. STFU, dude. There’s a reason you’re at the bottom of the polls and money list.

Poor Lindsey. Just another in a life-long series of mortifications.

Always the little boy who got pantsed in the hallway, never the kid picked first for the pick-up game…

Rather than split the field 10 and 7, Fox should have had 2 rounds of debates – first one with 3 fields of 5 or 6 (with the top 6 candidates spread over the 3 groups), and the second round with 2 fields of 4 candidates each, dropping the bottom 9, with about 4 to 6 weeks in between so polling could get a feel for how the first round shook out. IMHO

It’s OK that Lindsay Graham thinks Fox’s rules are stupid. I think Lindsay Graham is stupid. All is good.

This entire ‘debate’ fiasco is a debate in name only. The format is a single news reader asking questions. We’ve seen the MSM’s best – Candy Crowley skew questions giving softballs to Jacks and and gotcha questions to the Elephant. Candidates are tooling around the country and there should be ample opportunity to corral two into a true Lincoln-Douglas style debase without the blow dried talking heads.

Call me crazy, but Graham is sexy — if you’re blind, deaf and can’t read, or you’re John Boehner.

Does this mean Lindsey is still at 0.0%?

well, Miss Lindsey is an SME on stupid, so s/he/it would know what they’re talking about, which is a pleasant change for their usual idiocy.

Henry Hawkins | July 11, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Graham is in the race only to hold SC for Jeb Bush if he can. He can’t do that if he isn’t in the debates, which is to say, continuing to run. Anyone who doesn’t make FOX’s cut list will look like and almost certainly be an eventual nom loser.

Laurice M. Tatum | July 21, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Graham is making a move to forbid Trump from the debates. That’s just un – American. If I could talk to Lindsey, I would say, this is a real cheap shot. An attempt by you to maintain your fiefdom. An attempt by you to manipulate the course and direction to benefit you and your special interest groups. You seemingly are afraid to have Trump in the Debates. If you make a serious move in to pull off your coup d’état, attempt to enter the Presidency by sneaky and deceptive means. You will at the end of the day be one of the worst politicians in resent times. I for one never will vote for you. “What are you so afraid of?”