By Happy Carlock |
Donald Trump is known for crowning Miss USA, but could he also crown the next Republican presidential nominee? In a nomination fight with no shortage of debate opportunities, Donald Trump has decided to hold a debate two days after Christmas. Wouldn't the viewers prefer to watch Charlie Brown's Christmas for the 100th time than watch the candidates chat with Trump? The Republican candidates should say no to Trump and focus on the upcoming brutal primary season.
The problem with the Trump debate for those candidates who attend is that folks might be more interested in listening to Trump rather than the actual candidates. He was after all, as he constantly reminds reporters, once atop a few polls when he flirted with a race himself. In fact, he is still flirting.
Republicans are experiencing debate overload, and the candidates should agree to limit the number of debates, especially around the holidays when no one is watching. So far, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have all declined the invitation, while Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry wait on the sidelines. GOP establishment fixtures have scoffed at Trump's desire to be a player. Only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are willing to court Trump, which will give center stage to Gingrich.
If the debate occurs, Gingrich and Santorum might have their most interesting debate yet. The Trump debate would definitely be more entertaining than watching the same old news anchors time responses and ask predictable questions. Trump would not be Anderson Cooper who sat back after he started a bar fight. Rest assured, Trump would interrogate the candidates with direct and tough questions, and maybe his daughter Ivanka might show up to give her perspective on which presidential candidate could be "hired" or "fired." All the media attention surrounding this Trump debate and his celebrity status could draw new viewers, and maybe encourage a few more independents to watch a Republican debate.
Trump's endorsement of a candidate could sway some voters, but the Republicans skipping the shindig don't want to be the one that Trump does not choose. If Gingrich goes to the debate and Romney doesn't, all bets are that Trump endorses Newt. In fact, Trump might have already made his pick. Put logic aside, however, Trump will want to make this debate into a political reality show. For television worth watching, Trump should debate Karl Rove, and both should be tasked with figuring out how to unite Republicans.
Trump definitely has appeal. East Coast Republicans, independents, and centrists might be influenced by Trump's pick. After all, he is a direct and opinionated entrepreneur and a successful media personality: in fact he is his own brand. Maybe Trump's debate is his way of interviewing for the vice presidential slot. Now that's a reality that most of the Republican candidates may want to simply avoid.
About Mercedes Schlapp Cofounder of Cove Strategies
Stephanie Slade Project Director at The Winston Group
Fergus Cullen Former Chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party
Sally Kohn Political Commentator
Grover Norquist President of Americans for Tax Reform