Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee Chair, today announced on Face the Nation on CBS that he planned to make a number of changes to their Presidential nomination procedure in the next cycle, for the 2016 election. Let’s look at the proposed changes to figure out why they will be done and what they will accomplish.
First, he wants to move up the Republican Convention to June or July, from its current time in August. The impetus for this move is that Mitt Romney, according to the rules, couldn’t spend money collected for the general election until after the convention. Since Obama didn’t have any primary challenger, he was able to use his primary funds to attack Mitt. (Of course, Mitt could have spent some of his own money but chose not to do so.) A problem with this change is that the candidate will be campaigning for nearly a year without a break, since the primary season will lead directly to the general campaign, without the 2 or 3 month break.
Second, he wants to limit the amount of debates to 8 or 9, instead of 23 in 2012. I’d guess that there are two reasons for this. First, it makes it easier for the best funded candidate to win, since it will be difficult for the lesser known and less funded ones to gain ground. Second, it will keep latecomers out of the race. If I remember right, both Cain and Trump entered after the race was well under way.
Third, he proposed a series of regional debates rather than the hodgepodge system currently used. This would tend to permit a more coherent argument by the candidates. The current system is silly. Candidates go to Iowa and say what the farmers and the Christian conservatives want to hear. Then they go to New Hampshire, where they try to appeal to the libertarians. Soon after, they go to Nevada, where they try to appeal to Hispanics and gambling interests.
Finally, he wants to spend $10 million on a minority outreach effort. He said, “If you’re not in the community, if you’re not talking to people and the level of familiarity isn’t there, then things — silly things like Todd Akin and some of the goofy things that are said, the caricature becomes true if you’re not there. If have unscripted moments and no relationship to explain anything, obviously, I believe you’re a sitting duck.”
Obviously, a minority outreach effort is sorely needed after the 2012 debacle. But I don’t remember anything Akin said about minorities; I thought he got in trouble for talking about abortion. For a minority outreach effort to work, Priebus would need to keep candidates at all levels from saying ‘stupid’ things. It’s unclear how he could do that. Candidates in the Gulf South can say things that make sense here but sound wacky in the Rust Belt, and voce versa.