The Republican Presidential candidates got together and made a list of demands regarding the debates, and they came up with a handy questionnaire for all the debate sponsors. I took a moment to put myself in the media’s shoes and came up with some answers…
This letter is on behalf of the 15 Republican Presidential campaigns. We are aware that you are sponsoring a debate on _____ at ______. Below and attached are questions about your debate to which the campaigns would appreciate answers at your earliest convenience, and in any event no later than a month from today.
What happens if we do not reply within the month time frame? Will candidates refuse to participate individually, or as a collective group if one candidate does not receive a response?
The answers you provide to these questions are part of a process that each campaign will use to determine whether its candidate will participate in your debate. All the candidates recognize that robust debates are an important part of the primary elections. It is also important that all debates be appropriate platforms for discussing substantive issues and the candidates’ visions for the future.
So if we really want to whittle your circus down to just a few candidates so it is a manageable group, we can just not respond to the ones we don’t want there, or intentionally give certain candidates answers that are designed to piss them off, right?
To achieve this going forward, the campaigns ask that you:
• Answer the questions below within 30 days of receipt by communicating directly with the campaigns. We’ll provide an email list for that distribution.
Are those calendar or business days, and what constitutes receipt? Just five sentences ago, you said we had a month, now it is 30 days. You are really confusing the timeframe here.
• No later than a month before your debate (earlier if possible), schedule a conference with all the campaigns participating jointly so that the campaigns may ask questions about the format for your debate, the moderators and your answers to the questions below. The campaigns may request an additional call(s) to discuss specific issues.
You betcha! A month before our debate, we will send written notification to each candidate providing information of a call to be held 30 days from the date of receipt of our letter, which shall be sent by regular mail from our outpost in Antarctica. We sincerely hope everyone receives the letter on the same day so everyone knows what day to call in. Really.
• The campaigns’ will use the manner in which your debate(s) are run (and changes you say you will make from your past debates), the quality and fairness of your moderators’ questions, their enforcement of the rules and their ability to achieve parity in distribution and quality of questions and time among the candidates to evaluate whether the candidates wish to participate in your future debates.
It would seem this only applies to Fox since no other networks are left in the cycle to host more than one additional future Republican Primary debate. If you are implying you will not participate in the general election Presidential debates, we are sure the DNC will gladly accept 2 hours of free air time.
Oh, wait…do you mean you are asking us to provide all of the questions in advance so you can pick only the ones you want to answer?
• In addition, based on their evaluation of previous debates, the campaigns wish to have in all future debates a minimum 30-second opening statement and a minimum 30-second closing statement for each participant; candidate pre-approval of any graphics and bios you plan to include in your broadcast about each candidate, and that there be no “lightening rounds” because of their frivolousness or “gotcha” nature, or in some cases both.
Well that is very unfortunate. We had really hoped for a lightening round where the candidates all finger painted the set white to lighten things up. We aren’t sure how lightening a room is a “gotcha” kind of thing, but it’s not an issue since we will be dropping the whole finger painting round.
As for candidate pre-approval of any graphics, each candidate will have a monitor built into their podium and will be given an “approval clicker”. Before the control room puts up a graphic summarizing what the candidate is saying, all of the candidates can vote to approve the graphic, with a simple majority determining whether the graphic will appear. When Trump calls Rubio dumb, and we want to put up a “Trump: Rubio is dumb” banner graphic across the bottom of the screen, all the candidates on stage get to vote on whether that goes out to viewers.
Does each candidate also want a new pony?
The campaigns appreciate your participation to achieve what they feel is a great need for more accountability and transparency in their primary debate process. In addition to addressing the above points, please answer the following:
• Where and when will the debate be held?
We refer you to the opening sentence of this letter, which you wrote, detailing the location and time of the debate. Dumbass.
• What are criteria for inclusion? If you choose to base this on polls, please detail which polls and why each poll’s methodology and sample size is acceptable to you.
Presumably, if a candidate does not receive a response to this inquiry, they will not participate in the debate, therefor, criteria for inclusion will be determined by who we decide to send this response to.
• Who is the moderator? Will there be any additional questioners? Are they seated?
The moderator is the person who asks the candidates questions, dumbass. And there will be many people who question things…many, many things. In fact, many people have already questioned a lot of things where the Republican Primary is concerned.
Some are seated, some are standing.
• What is the estimated audience for the debate? Will it be disseminated on-line? By radio? Will it be disseminated by other means and do you have any additional partners?
We estimate the audience will be composed primarily of human beings who are interested in watching the Republican Primary debate either to make an attempt to learn more about the candidates, or to revel in absurdity that is the Republican Presidential Primary. Unfortunately, we have not yet devised a way to disseminate an audience on-line or by radio, although Willy Wonka disseminated a boy by radio waves once. Oh wait, those were television waves. Totally different. Sorry.
Additional partners? Are you suggesting I’m a slut?
• What format do you envision — podiums, table, other?
Other. We prefer a debate format for debates rather than a podium format or table format. Then again, a cage fight format might capture a larger audience…
• Will there be questions from the audience or social media? That will largely depend on if we decide to have an open bar or cash bar before the debate begins. We are certain social media will question a lot of things. How many? Just enough to annoy you. How will they be presented to the candidates? Each question will be presented by interpretive dance. Will you acknowledge that you, as the sponsor, take responsibility for all questions asked, even if not asked by your personnel? Absolutely! We will use our special Media Mind Tricks to make sure any person who gets up to speak says only what you want them to say.
• What is your proposed length of the debate?
Two hours, or 23.5 feet, whichever comes first.
• Will there be opening and closing statements. How long will they be?
Yes. They will be longer than whatever time we allot, as no politician has ever been able to stop talking before time has expired.
• Will you commit to provide equal time/an equal number of questions of equal quality (substance as opposed to “gotcha” or frivolous) to each candidate?
Each candidate will have a 7 minute time bank over the course of the two hour debate to have the words coming out of their mouth broadcast to anyone interested in watching. Once the candidate has used their 7 minutes, their microphone will be shut off and removed from the stage. We suggest the candidates stick to short answers, or that you people wake up and learn how to field only a handful of candidates instead of clown car full of candidates.
The quality of questions will track with the quality of each candidate’s answer. The more idiotic the answer they give, the more idiotic the next question they get will be.
• How long are the answers and rebuttals? If a candidate is mentioned, will he/she automatically be called on so they can rebut?
See above. Each candidate can use the 7 minute time bank as they wish. TIP: a good tactic is for everyone to gang up one candidate early so that candidate blows their 7 minutes rebutting all the other idiots.
• Will there be a gong/buzzer/bell when time is up? How will the moderator enforce the time limits?
Without a doubt, we will definitely go with your suggestion and use a gong. Time limits will be enforced via trap doors in the stage floor.
• Will you commit that you will not:
– Ask the candidates to raise their hands to answer a question
Sure! We can have them stomp their feet instead – one for yes, two for no.
– Ask yes/no questions without time to provide a substantive answer
Well Captain Obvious, since we are forbidden from asking “gotcha” questions, yes or no WILL be the substantive answer to yes or no questions. We will give each candidate 1 second to respond. It will make for exciting lightning rounds!!!
– Have a “lightening round”
This was covered previously, but in this short span, we have since decided to put the finger painting back in with black paint and have a darkening round instead of a lightening round.
– Allow candidate-to-candidate questioning
It absolutely will NOT be allowed. Each candidate will be outfitted with a shock collar, and if they attempt to speak to any other candidate in the form of a question, a corrective shock shall be administered. The shocks will increase in severity and length with each successive violation. Habitual offenders will be tased.
– Allow props or pledges by the candidates
No beanies will be permitted. The propellers play hell with overhead light reflections.
Any candidate who commits to any type of pledge, including without limitation: to be a good president, to faithfully carry out the laws of this country, to do the best job they can do, to make things better for people, to not suck, or to “make America great again”, will be tased. Repeatedly. They will then be removed from the stage via trap door, and then promptly ejected from the venue.
– Have reaction shots of members of the audience or moderators during debates
All audience members and moderators will be required to wear burkas and welding masks to prevent the observance of any type of reaction. That will go for the candidates as well. No reactions will be permitted by any living human at the venue.
– Show an empty podium after a break (describe how far away the bathrooms are)
Each podium will have a built in urinal to help prevent this from occurring, but nonetheless, we will have some trustees from the county jail in orange jumpsuits on hand to stand in the candidate’s place so nobody sees an empty podium.
– Use behind shots of the candidates showing their notes
We won’t need them. Each candidate will be required to wear Google Glass units so we can all clearly see their notes.
– Leave microphones on during breaks
If your candidate is too stupid to turn their damn mic off when… Oh. Wait. Yeah, we can get some kids from the audience to run up and turn mics off at the breaks. They will be kind of like bat boys at baseball games…
– Allow members of the audience to wear political messages (shirts, buttons, signs, etc.). Who enforces?
Absolutely! The First Amendment sucks! AMIRITE? AMIRITE?? However, we will make sure each member of the audience is packing heat. We will have roving “take down” squads to ensure compliance with non-expression.
• What is the size of the audience? Who is receiving tickets in addition to the candidates? Who’s in charge of distributing those tickets and filling the seats?
It is bigger than a bread box, but smaller than the Pentagon. All tickets will be “sold” on Ticketmaster but promptly bought by scalpers *coughourstafferscough* and sold on StubHub for more than they could possibly be worth. We will have three busloads of homeless people on hand to fill any vacant seats at the start time of the debate. Since there are so many candidates, we would lose our butts at the door on ticket sales, so the candidates are responsible for buying their own tickets.
• What instructions will you provide to the audience about cheering during the debate?
The audience will be informed that anyone cheering will be bound to a pole on stage and lashed by each candidate. We will institute a review panel to distinguish those cheering from those jeering. Please note: Booing is not cheering, and as such, it will be permitted.
• What are the plans for the lead-in to the debate (Pre-shot video? Announcer to moderator? Director to Moderator?) and how long is it?
Michael Buffer will announce the beginning of the debate with his trademark “Let’s get ready to rumble!” phrase, and all 15 candidates will speed out on to the stage in a VW Bug clown car. The candidates will have 10 seconds – total, not each – to exit the clown car. The car will promptly speed away after 10 seconds, and any candidate not out of the car will not be allowed to participate in the debate, unless they jump from the car before it is off the stage.
• Are you running promo ads before the debate about your moderator(s)?
Are we, or will we? You really need to be consistent with your verb tenses.
• What type of microphones (lavs or podium)?
What type of lav or podium microphones…do we love? Hate? Have? Want? Use to bug the green rooms with?
• Can you pledge that the temperature in the hall be kept below 67 degrees?
Wait…the candidates aren’t allowed to make pledges, but we have to? That doesn’t seem terribly fair. In the end though, we can make that pledge, but the question is…will we?
UPDATE (8:52 am): After careful consideration, and receiving expert advice from my wife, this request will be honored. To ensure maximum comfort, each candidate will have their core body temperature measured in real time throughout the debate via wireless rectal thermometer. Fans will be installed in each podium and will activate if a rise in core body temperature is observed.
If there is any additional information you would like to provide the candidates and the campaigns, please do so.
Thank you for your cooperation. Should you have any questions, the campaigns will be pleased to answer them.
Excellent! We will be sure to ask all of our questions…at the debate.