Michael Barone suggests a debate where both Dems and Repubs are included





WHAT if they held a debate and everybody came? So far this presidential primary season, we’ve been able to watch seven Democratic and seven Republican candidate debates. Not many people, even those who like me are paid to follow the campaigns, have watched all 14 of them. Democratic debates are reported to tend to attract mostly Democratic audiences, Republican debates mostly Republican audiences.

Voters who are in the middle, who do not yet feel committed to either party — and there appear to be more of them than there were in the 2004 cycle — are presumably less willing to watch. This year’s debates seem pitched to each party’s true believers, which reinforces the polarization of our politics and leaves out a lot of voters who, polls tell us, are disillusioned with both parties.

But what if there were a debate featuring all of the leading Democratic and Republican candidates? It’s happened before, once, on Dec. 1, 1987, when Tom Brokaw of NBC News moderated a debate among six Democratic and six Republican presidential candidates. It was held on bipartisan ground: the Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center in Washington.


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