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Dr. Michael Shires on GOP Debate at Reagan Presidential Library | Ventura County Star

GOP presidential debate set at Reagan Library

Kathleen Wilson
12:54 PM, Jan 16, 2015
Ventura County Star

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - Republican candidates for president will face off in mid-September in Simi Valley in one of the first televised debates in the race for the GOP nomination, officials announced Friday.

The debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum will be the second in a series of nine announced by national Republican leaders at their winter meeting in Coronado. Party leaders cut the number by more than half from the 2012 race, a series some party officials said was so long and divisive that it badly damaged nominee Mitt Romney.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation is hosting the Sept. 16 debate and CNN will moderate. If the practice for the previous three presidential debates held at the library prevails, the debate will be invitational.

Political specialists said the reduced number of debates and the Reagan Library’s position in the order boost its value.

“The fact that it’s one of the earliest makes this debate one of the first opportunities for most voters to see the candidates,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “By later in the year, you may see a matter of diminishing returns.”

Some candidates may drop out by the time the later debates are held, said Mike Shires, associate professor of public policy at Pepperdine University.

Candidates who falter in the first or second debates won’t be able to raise the money they need to conduct a national campaign, Shires said.

He said debates can have a major impact, as they did in the 2012 presidential race, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry never recovered from stumbles in early debates.

“I think Perry’s campaign ended on the debate stage,” Shires said. “Mitt Romney weathered through. Debates were a good metric of the energy of the campaigns. The downside is it all is done very publicly.”

Politically, there are upsides to having fewer debates. The limited number gives campaigns more time to raise money and contact voters, Schnur said.

The first debate is planned in August in Ohio and the last in February 2016 in Florida, the Republican National Committee said in the announcement Friday.

A tentative schedule calls for an October debate in Colorado, one in November in Wisconsin, one in December in Nevada and one in January in Iowa. Two are planned in February, one in New Hampshire and one in South Carolina.

The Simi Valley event will mark the second time for the Reagan Foundation to partner with CNN to put on a presidential debate. The first one was held in 2008, the year Democrat Barack Obama was elected president in a race against Republican John McCain.