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Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

The debate process that the Republican National Committee has thrust onto the 2016 Republican field is doing voters a disservice.

The debate schedule that the RNC has dictated, cutting debates from 22 to 9 with harsh penalties for candidates who participate in debates beyond the specified 9, gives lesser known candidates even less exposure. Also the RNC’s agreement to base criteria on national polling rather than early state polling favors establishment candidates.

The media attention is already focused on national polling frontrunners, which further impacts polling, which impacts who can participate in the primetime debate, which impacts national polling and you have a perpetual cycle which doesn’t help voters make a decision about candidates or expose them to lesser know, quality candidates.

The focus on the national stage, rather than on early states, allows well-funded candidates and candidates with high name ID to campaign less and focus on sound bytes more.  It bypasses the grassroots.

It becomes more about personalities and less about issues and policy.  The types of questions asked during the last two debates did little to improve that.

The CNBC debate will leave two of the hardest-working candidates off the primetime stage, and those watching the debate will miss out on the strongest two candidates in the field in terms of policy as well.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) have campaigned hard in Iowa.  Santorum has completed his 99 county tour of Iowa.  Jindal has visited 46 so far, and will complete his tour prior to the Iowa Caucus. Both have given voters excellent access to be able to ask questions during meet and greets and town hall meetings.

I haven’t seen that in any other campaign.  As popular as U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) appears to be with grassroots he simply hasn’t been in the state as much focusing on larger events rather than town halls and smaller meet and greets. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has been in the state more than Cruz, but still trails Santorum and Jindal when it comes to time spent in Iowa.

The other candidates in the field lag even further behind.

How is this a healthy process again?  It’s not.

In terms of policy, Jindal is a policy wonk. He stands out in terms of offering substantive domestic policy positions. His experience runs deep and his presence on the primetime debate stage would enhance a discussion on those issues and expose Americans to a sound, experienced candidate.  With the current process Jindal literally had to attack Donald Trump to get any national attention because of national polling numbers. Santorum is the field’s leading expert on Iran and radical Islamic terrorism. It’s asinine to have discussion on foreign policy without him at the table.

They both make the field stronger and should be given time on the primetime stage.

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