Keller @ Large: What Needs To Change In Debates

BOSTON (CBS) – I’ll take a pass on trying to call the winner of last night’s Republican presidential debate, let alone the winner of all 20 of them. That is in the eye of the beholder.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

The people who care most about them – the GOP primary and caucus voters – have made it pretty clear so far even they don’t have a clear favorite.

But last night and all those many hours spent watching these guys over the past eight months have left me with a few impressions.

First, live audience debates in a race this important have got to go.

Almost all of the audience for these events are watching on TV, and having a crowd of partisans whooping and hollering at everything their man says is not only distracting, but distorting to the TV viewer.

We have no way of evaluating the makeup and IQ of the crowd in the hall; why on earth should they get to shout in our ear all the way through about how they think it’s going?

Second, either the debate organizers should work with citizen questioners to sharpen their question into something more than T-ball for the candidates, or they should dispense with them altogether.

If you noticed last night, Dorchester’s own John King had to step in every time to rescue those questions.


As far as the candidates go, Mitt Romney was his usual slick, competent self, and Ron Paul did his normal thing.

The more newsworthy developments were the continued implosion of Newt Gingrich, who whipsawed between manic, often hard-to-follow monologues, and periods of respose where he resembled Dr. Evil from the “Austin Powers” movies; and Rick Santorum, who abruptly abandoned years of campaign strategy and tried to sound reasonable.

Or maybe he was going for statesmanlike, it was hard to tell.

Anyway, they’re over until the real debates in the fall.

Bring on Brown vs. Warren – but no live audience, please.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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  • Willow

    I think the most important thing that has to change is the candidates.

  • tsalnew

    It’s my understanding that the republican party has been rumbling that it wants a new candidate. IMHO the party is going to implode which may not be a bad thing because it can then get back to what it once was. Before you jump – this topic is about the republican party folks and I am not saying the democrats don’t have problems either.

  • Italo

    The best thing happening to the Obama campaign is these candidates. They simply give someone a reason to vote for Obama instead. Look at all of them. Greying, pin-stripe-tied, white, older males. To say that they symbolize their Republican Party being out-of-touch with today’s country’s multilayered diversity is an understatement.

    First, the debate was bound to be like an episode of the Jerry Springer Show, because it was hosted by the Disney Entertainment Channel of Networks, CNN. Second, IMO calling Romney a competent self is a joke. He’s so out-of-touch, too, he must be numb. Things come out of his mouth that completely don’t match other people’s realities and that make no sense–he just spews verbal headlines. Then you have Bea Arthur, I mean Newt. Yeah, right. Sometimes at least Ron Paul appears to be the bearer of common sense statements and views. And regarding Santorum, I have to say that although I think he’s very polarizing and really disconnected with real-life citizens, workers, and the needy, he sticks by his guns and isn’t afraid to speak his opinion or beliefs, which ironically I really admire about him–considering that, after all, he is a politician.

    • tsalnew

      Italo – not sure about Santorum speaking his opinions clearly but agree on all and Paul was the only one IMHO who was worth listening to. He seems to really be the one who is consistent. Unfortunately, I don’t agree with a lot of what he says but of the group he’s the one I’d chose to admire.

      If wishes were horses, I would wish Huntsman had stayed in a bit longer. The GOP has promoted each candidate until they fall apart and would have gotten to Huntsman eventually and I’m not certain he would have fallen apart.

  • mikey

    ..and to make matters worse there’s a chance that this country will hit its debt-ceiling of 16.4 trillion at the height of the presidential and Congressional elections, that was a fast 2.1 trillion blown – don’t you think?

    Witnessing a repeat of the debt-ceiling debacle as the candidates jockey for the win, what a mess that would be.

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