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Should Rush Limbaugh moderate the GOP presidential debates?
The Republican National Committee is reportedly considering employing the popular shock jock
It would be ratings gold.
It would be ratings gold. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
T

he Republican National Committee is looking to shake up the party's next round of presidential debates.

In addition to threatening to deny CNN and NBC the chance to host any of the GOP's 2016 primary debates, the RNC is considering scrapping the old model in which journalists from middle-of-the-road networks act as moderators, reports Paul Bedard at The Washington Examiner.

GOP insiders tell Secrets that they are considering other choices, even a heavyweight panel of radio bigs Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

They told Secrets that they are eager to bring in questioners who understand Republican policies and beliefs and who have the ability to get candidates to differentiate their positions on core conservative values. [The Washington Examiner]

Not everybody is convinced that putting stars of the right-wing infotainment world in the national spotlight is a good idea. For one, some potential candidates might object to facing off against such opinionated personalities. "Levin has been highly critical of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), while Limbaugh spent months ripping a Senate immigration plan backed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)," Cameron Joseph notes at The Hill.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air adds that candidates might follow button-pushers like Limbaugh and Hannity into perilous ideological territory "if they aren't disciplined enough to keep their balance, and that may produce some problems in a general election."

Still, Morrissey says, the idea has its merits.

The benefits of this are readily apparent. These three radio hosts command large audiences, far larger than a typical presidential-primary debate would attract. Furthermore, they would attract the people that the GOP most needs to energize for a national election — grassroots conservatives and highly-engaged voters. Partnering with these three would vastly improve the perception of the RNC, both for partnering with favorite New Media voices and for continued defiance to the mainstream media. [Hot Air]

Plus, media stars with obvious liberal biases have moderated presidential debates in the past. Here's Dylan Byers at Politico:

Back on May 3, 2007, MSNBC's Chris Matthews co-moderated the first Republican primary debate of the 2008 presidential campaign. Matthews was staunchly anti-Bush — he even called him a criminal — and less than a year later admitted to feeling "this thrill going up my leg" when he heard Barack Obama speak. [Politico]

Of course, no debate about Rush Limbaugh would be complete without input from Rushbo himself. His verdict? He's "too famous" for the debates, and could "overshadow" the candidates themselves. Sorry, Reince.

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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