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U.S. Republican presidential candidates gather before the start of their debate in Ames, Iowa August 11, 2011. They are (from L to R) Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich. REUTERS/Jim Young      (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
What if the GOP cuts the 2016 freakshow short .. and the freaks win? Yummy!
Republicans know they have a problem when it comes to the presidential nomination process and today they announced how they plan to solve it. You can read the detais starting on page 64 of their 2012 autopsy but here's a quick summary:
  1. Cut the number of primary debates by half.
  2. Start primary debates closer to when voting begins and end them more quickly.
  3. Discourage using caucuses or conventions to select delegates.
  4. Hold the convention earlier in the summer.
  5. Accelerate the primary calendar, including the possibility of regional primaries after the traditional early states vote.

For the most part, these are pretty boring proposals, but the one thing that really jumps out is that the unspoken assumption here is that the more general election voters are exposed to the spectacle of Republicans wooing the GOP base, the worse it is for the party. In other words, if you believe these ideas would make a Republican presidential candidate electable, then you also believe that the less people see of the Republican Party, the better it is for the GOP.

But while a plan of getting the nomination over with as quickly and quietly as possible might be a decent way for Republicans to reduce the visibility of the party's heart and soul fringe lunatics, it won't actually do a thing to address the problem it's trying to solve. And while Republican insiders assume that the debates were debilitating for Mitt Romney, let's not forget that after the tenth debate, he wasn't leading the field—Newt Gingrich was. In fact, without 20 debates to wear down his hapless opponents, Romney might never have become the nominee.

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