Wednesday, 17 June 2015


 Top operatives in both parties think that the presidential debates have become too much of an antiquated spectacle. Today a bipartisan group (their names are below) will unveil a 48-page report with recommendations on how to make them better in 2016. Their goal is to make the high-stakes showdowns more accessible for younger voters, more meaningful for independents and (perhaps most of all) less of a huge pain for the campaigns themselves. We’ve devoted a lot of ink recently to Fox News’ criteria for deciding which 10 Republicans will appear on stage during the first primary debate in August, but don’t forget that tens of millions more people will watch the general election debates next fall.
— Their buzziest idea is to start using a chess clock model to divvy up time and force more clash.The most memorable exchanges come when the nominees are going at each other, not when they’re reciting canned talking points. Allowing the candidates to engage each other more directly, this panel hopes, will make for better TV and thus reverse the long-term decline in viewership. Under the “chess clock” model, each candidate would get 45 minutes of speaking time. “Anytime a candidate is speaking, that candidate’s clock visibly counts own,” the report explains. “To take control of the floor, a candidate simply hits the chess clock. No answer, rebuttal or question may exceed three minutes … When a candidate runs out of total time, he or she has exhausted the right to speak … The candidates, not the moderators, would be responsible for follow-up … The moderators would not be tasked with asking follow-up questions; instead, candidates would be expected to challenge incomplete and nonresponsive statements by the opposing side.”

HENRY E. J Williams

Author & Editor

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