Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham Slams Presidential Debate Qualifications, Polling Cut-off

Say it's silly to base who attends a debate this early based on national polling


U.S. Senate

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is averaging zero percent in the RealClearPolitics average of national Republican presidential polls, commented about the ten-person limit imposed on the first Republican debate of the primary season, scheduled for August 6 in Cleveland. While Fox News has left enough room in its qualifications to have some leeway over which polls it uses, and hence which candidates are excluded, Graham is unlikely to make the cut-off no matter which polls are used.

Understandably, Graham's upset. In an interview this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Graham also called out the Republican National Committee, reminding them it was their party and they had some say in how candidates would be excluded from the debate as well. Via The Hill:

"I think, well, the RNC, they're not helpless here. I mean, it is our party," Graham said. "CNN and Fox have come up with a criteria to get into the debate that I think is silly."

Graham suggested the debates were being chosen by those candidates with big name ID, such as businessman Donald Trump, and said he worried about the nominee selection.

"Let's listen to people who have got a wide breadth of experience, including Donald Trump, and make an informed decision," Graham said. "To the RNC, you're not bound by this. You're not helpless in this endeavor. You can say no if you like."

Fox and CNN will both host televised candidate forums earlier in the day for candidates who don't make the main debate. Lindsey Graham is right, the Republican Party could exert more influence over which candidates make the debate or not. In the RealClearPolitics average, the tenth place is shared by Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas and 2012 candidate, and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Graham also noted that he may get a bump in the polls after his feud with Donald Trump—Graham called him a "jackass" for making fun of John McCain for being a prisoner of war, leading Trump to share Graham's cell phone number in an event in South Carolina. "That's not why I want a rise in polls," Graham said,

Especially given Sen. Rand Paul's recent campaign to appear more like a mainstream, establishment Republican as he runs for president, the GOP is not very ideologically diverse. The debate could end up an exercise in who can be the most populist of the lot, making discussion of the important issues of the size and power of government that much more difficult to have.

Does Lindsey Graham belong on the debate stage next month? Certainly as much as any of the candidates that seem more like they're running to get a TV deal than to articulate any kind of coherent ideology, anathema to libertarianism or otherwise.

Relying primarily on national polls this early on has another problem: national polls this early on are meaningless, especially in a primary process that begins with isolated contests in specific states (Iowa, New Hampshire, then South Carolina). Trump, for example, is first in the average of national polls, but isn't first in any of those three states, and is at about 2 percent in South Carolina. Stephanie Slade wrote about national presidential primary polling in the July issue of Reason.

NEXT: Ted Cruz Calls Mitch McConnell a Bald-Faced Liar, Thunders Against Ex-Im Bank

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  1. Re the picture:

    Was there ever a photo of a horse’s ass that looked more like a horse’s ass?

  2. Thunderdome extreme rules

    They all go in, one comes out!

    They all go in, one comes out!

    They all go in, one comes out!


      1. “Say it LOUDER!”


          1. “Embargo lifted!”

            1. “I’ll have what she’s having.”

              1. “Deserve’s got NOTHING to do with it.”

                1. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

  3. If he were president, he would literally use the military to force the RNC to put him in the debate.

  4. I still can’t figure out why Graham is running. Surely he doesn’t expect to win. So, is this designed to get him the veep slot with someone? Or is he in bed with one of the other candidates to split one section of the base?

    Of course, I guess it could just be Hanlon’s Razor.

    1. He’d probably LIKE to be in bed with one of the other candidates…

    2. Probably expecting to retire soon. Running for president adds a couple thousand to your speaking fee.

      1. Bam — I can’t picture Graham ever retiring. He’s like McCain and so many other corrupt politicians in that regard.

  5. “That’s not why I want a rise in polls,” Graham said,

    “Maybe what would make my pole rise isn’t gonna be supported by my base” Lindsey didn’t add.

    1. (Enthusiastic applause)

  6. As someone here pointed out the other day, Graham should be running for President of Narnia. He doesn’t belong in these debates at all.

    1. Well, if Aslan would eat him, I would vote for him.

      1. Let’s get him on the next plane to Milwaukee

  7. So, when LG and GJ agree on something… what’s the right instinct? The run away instinct is strong.

    1. “You talk about diss and datt, but I’ve been in many science fiction movies! Listen to me now and hear me later! Aughhhsweioprhljbms!!!!”

      1. “Get to the woodchippa! Go noww!”

  8. Is one of the requirements to be in the debate that you have to actually be a natural born Citizen?

    1. Hey, Graham was born that way.

      1. Graham yes, Cruz no, Rubio and Jindal maybe.

        US vs Wong Kim Ark:
        “A person born out of the jurisdiction of the United States can only become a citizen by being naturalized, either by treaty, as in the case of the annexation of foreign territory, or by authority of Congress, exercised either by declaring certain classes of persons to be citizens, as in the enactments conferring citizenship upon foreign-born children of citizens,…”

    2. My interpretation of “natural born” is the 17th century one: Born out of wedlock.

      I have observed that occupants of the oval office all appear to have been bastards, so the constitution is being upheld.

  9. Seems like a perfect situation for an NCAA-like play off debate. One on one debates, polling for the winners on CNN using the phone line voting technique for advancement to the next round.

  10. “Let’s listen to people who have got a wide breadth of experience, includingas well as Donald Trump…”

    Fixed it for you, Lindsey.

    1. I seem to remember Graham and others in his cohort were singing a different tune when Ron Paul was running for president.

  11. If there are too many candidates for one debate, why not split the field in half, draw lots, and have two debates?

    1. Because that leaves less room for the party elites to steer the process.

    2. Realistically, an egg-and-spoon race to determine the nominee would have a better chance of producing a competent POTUS.

      1. That’s pretty good.

        Or, maybe musical chairs.

        1. Please, no musical chairs, you would instantly doom us to a Chris Christie presidency.

      2. Any kind of democratic process of this scale is scarcely able to yield a “competent” POTUS. The winner of the election is he who is best at pathologically lying and concealing his sociopathy from the public.

  12. Is it right to have so many candidates in the debate while children are starving? At least we could let some of the starving children moderate.

    1. We don’t need 12 kinds of GOP candidates.

  13. Did Graham actually offer up any solutions to dealing with this crowded republican field in debates? Or is he just complaining?

    If he is just complaining, I would say I don’t need to hear from him during the debates anymore than I would need to hear from my cat on the political subjects.

    If you want the job, you have to be a thinker and engineer or at least suggest viable ways to deal with problems. And this is a minor issue.

    I don’t want a whiner for a president.

    1. “thinker and engineer”.

      We had an mining engineer, Herbert Hoover, but he became a social engineer when things started going South.

      1. I see how that reads now. But what I meant was more along the lines of ‘be a thinker and engineer (or at least suggest) viable ways to deal with problems’. Not suggesting he be an actual engineer. But I do suggest he be a thinker if he wants the job.

        1. I would prefer a president who would be silent.

          1. Won’t happen in our lifetimes.

            1. “U.S. Grand Ayatollah Has President’s Tongue Cut Out”

          2. “Silent Cal” Coolidge.

            1. Finally, someone caught the reference.

  14. OK, then, what influence do you think the RNC could exert over Fox & CNN?

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