After consulting with my fellow RNC members, I believe there isn’t anything to be gained by advancing a petition aimed solely at removing Congressman Paul from the debates. The primary is and will continue to work itself out.
I do however think we should continue to look at the bigger picture, the problem of how our party is going to adapt to the new realities of this very long primary season.
Congressman Paul’s controversial statements about the United State and who’s to blame for 9-11, combined with the splendid reaction of Mayor Giuliani and then my own heated reaction, stole the spotlight from the bigger point I really wanted to make and still think is important – continuing these “debates” as they are currently structured is not to our benefit, nor to our candidates, not to our party, nor to the country.
This is a very important process and it’s critical that we get a chance to get to know our leading and most viable candidates better. The idea of 10 candidates each getting a little over 6 minutes each and competing for the best “sound bite” of the evening isn’t very helpful in determining who our nominee should ultimately be.
NO one, at NO time, ever implied or said we should censure, restrict or deny any candidate the right to Free Speech. Specifically, Ron Paul, who is a sitting Congressman, will always have the same right as any other American and/or anyone in America has to express themselves. However, there is no constitutional right to participate in a party run debate or forum.
Although my initial response and what prompted me to action were the Congressman’s comments blaming America's policies for 9-11, this discussion should really have NOTHING to do with the positions individual candidates take. We obviously have a difference of opinion on many issues…and I expressed my personal outrage and let that get in the way of the bigger question.
I am and have always been a big supporter of open primaries, open discussion and the sharing of broad and diverse opinions. At the same time, I think it makes sense to at least discuss various options of making these debates/forums more useful and informative. Setting certain standards or criteria for folks to participate is NOT censorship or infringing on anyone free speech. Everyone has the right to run a commercial, put up a website or buy soapbox.
Every candidate has the right to run…some with a chance of actually winning the nominations and others just for the sake of making a point or two. But the party also has the right to arrange their venues in such a way that best serves this interest of the party. We have given 10 candidates 3 hours of national TV time. Our many local and state parties have opened our doors to them. And we have certainly invited all them to help us raise money J. In short, the so called 3rd tier candidates have had their chance to make an impression and if they cannot poll beyond 1 or 2 percentage points of support, they are simply getting in the way of the real debate of how to move our party and our country forward.
Finally, I want apologize to the RNC and our State Committee leadership (and my wife) who received obnoxious, annoying and disruptive emails or phone calls. My best advice to you is to ignore them (and/or just blame me).