Debates matter

Here at the Redstate Gathering, we’re going to be hearing from most of the Republican Presidential candidates. As they all arrive, the debate is going to be what’s on their minds, and on the minds of their campaign staffers.


Whether they did well or not, what they do here will try to build on or recover from the debates, because debates matter.

Those who are here will be able to listen in person, and submit questions to be asked of those candidates by Erick Erickson.

The rise and fall of so many candidates last time was charted by the debates. Newt Gingrich was going nowhere, until he got a chance to debate, and he became a leading contender, with two marked spikes in his polling. If he’d had a campaign and not a book tour he could have won.

Tim Pawlenty was supposed to be a top contender, and came out into the campaign fighting hard. Then he had a meek performance in a debate, seeming to shy away from Mitt Romney, and he was done.

Even Rick Perry, the very Texan governor of Texas, who represents so much that GOP voters instinctively like, ruined his chances last time in the debates. We now know he was still recovering from surgery for back problems, but the voters judged him by his debate performances. And in those, he was lacking.


Already I think Carly Fiorina has made herself a clear favorite for Vice President, and for the first time has seriously put herself up there as having an outside shot of getting the nomination for President. I think many of us hope she’ll be in the ‘main debate’ next time.

Who else will rise and fall remains to be seen, as the GOP electorate (who is not to be underestimated) reacts in the coming days.

But I think we’ll get a good idea of who’s in trouble by watching how the candidates here in Atlanta (pictured this morning in the Buckhead neighborhood) react at the Redstate Gathering.


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