As a Ted Cruz supporter, I’m obviously motivated to see my chosen candidate head-to-head with the frontrunner. It offers the best opportunity for him to differentiate himself in a positive manner and to highlight Donald Trump’s many flaws. It would also give him the opportunity to address up front the accusations and innuendos that Trump so casually throws out to the press when Cruz is not around.
For this exercise, I wanted to take my personal bias out of the equation and denounce the three biggest reasons that there probably won’t be a head-to-head debate. Then, we’ll get into the reasons that it needs to happen.
- John Kasich – I am sorry to have to tell the Ohio Governor and his supporters this, but his continued presence in the nominating process is detrimental to the party, his own state, and the country. He’ll want to be in a debate and that would be a very bad thing. He’s a distraction and his presence after winning only one state out of dozens is starting to get awkward.
- Donald Trump – As frontrunner, conventional wisdom dictates that he can only be hurt in a debate. Of course, he firmly believes that he’s won every single debate so this should be debunked instantly. As we’ll learn below, conventional wisdom can be thrown out the door. Trump would benefit from a debate.
- Democratic Ammunition – This is the most outrageously wrong reason to not have have a debate. “They” (not sure who “they” are, but they’re wrong) believe that when the two frontrunners attack each other on stage, it will give the Democrats ammunition for the general election. Apparently, “they” have not been watching all of the tidbits of ammunition being posted when Cruz and Trump aren’t debating, so this is a ridiculous notion.
With those out of the way, let’s look at the three top reasons why a head-to-head debate would be beneficial to both candidates and therefore beneficial to the Republican party’s chances of winning in November regardless of which one gets the nomination.
Head-to-Head Debates can Focus on Substance
We’ve seen a debate or two that didn’t devolve into a food fight. I firmly believe that we could see this again if the two sides came together with the moderators and told them they want it to focus on the issues at hand. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be attacks, but the attacks should be about substance and not about wives or campaign managers or Tweets or stupid hashtags. Give the American people the information they need on a substantive level and both candidates should be able to sway undecided, Independent, and even Democratic voters to be more firmly on their side.
Trump can Demonstrate Courage
At this point, Trump’s unwillingness to debate anymore is a clear indicator that he’s scared. He would never admit it and he’s fond of pointing to “on-line” polls about how well he does in debates, but the reality is that he hates them. He’s dodging. He doesn’t like the exposure he faces when he’s not in a controlled media environment. His inability to hit the curve is the reason that he hasn’t been able to demonstrate he’s a major league hitter at this point. With a head-to-head debate, either he makes contact with some of the curve balls or he swings and misses, but at least he won’t have the stigma of cowardice hanging over him. Step up to the plate, Mr. Trump.
Lyin'Ted Cruz is weak & losing big, so now he wants to debate again. But, according to Drudge,Time and on-line polls, I have won all debates
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2016
Preparation for Hillary
Whoever the nominee is, they’ll have to face Hillary Clinton at least three times in head-to-head debates. Trump has never been in a head-to-head debate. In fact, in seven decades, he’s never been in a debate in front of people that didn’t have at least three opponents. The dynamic in a head-to-head debate is completely different. It’s point/counter-point/counter-counter-point. The focus of every single question is on both candidates. Trump (and for that matter, Cruz) needs this to prepare to be in front of tens of millions of viewers with the spotlight on them 50% of the time. Clinton has already had head-to-head debates throughout her career and a few with Sanders this campaign cycle. It’s not her strength, but she’s also no slouch and her experience gives her an edge over Trump for sure and possibly over Cruz who is experienced but potentially rusty. The GOP would be very foolish to not make this happen.
Both Trump and Cruz would benefit from the exposure on a national scale that can only be accomplished with a head-to-head debate. Regardless of which one you support, it behooves the Republican party to make this happen before the convention to prepare the winner to take on Hillary Clinton in the general election.