The next GOP debate should have these seven candidates on the stage

CNN GOP Debate

It’s time for the crowded list of GOP candidates to drop down to a manageable level. Everyone has had their chance to make an impact. Some have. Most haven’t (at least not a positive one). Those who have zero chance of winning the nomination need to follow Scott Walker’s lead and move on to other aspirations. They’re wasting their time, our time, and taking attention away from those who have a chance.

The way that the next debate is situated in just over two weeks gives a wide door for people to make it onto the main debate stage. This inclusive format is damaging to the GOP when the Democrats have to split airtime between three candidates. It’s highly unlikely for CNN to change the criteria now, so we’re going to have to call on everyone else to terminate their campaigns.

As it stands, there’s a chance that eleven people might be on the main stage. That’s too many. Here are the candidates that should definitely be on the stage:

  • Donald Trump
  • Ben Carson
  • Ted Cruz
  • Marco Rubio
  • Jeb Bush

So far, these five represent the five who are polling the best, so it makes sense. The remaining two that we see in an “ideal” group of seven would be:

  • Carly Fiorina
  • Chris Christie

Fiorina is sixth in national polls, but Christie hovers between 7-10. In RealClearPolitics’ national poll listings, he is behind Mike Huckabee and was not on the main stage last time while John Kasich and Rand Paul were. Why would we want to see him over the three more likely participants? He’s the rising candidate while the others are fading. He’s making an impact in New Hampshire and is the appropriate foil in the moderate lane to Rubio and Bush. Kasich had his opportunity last debate and he failed miserably. He needs to go.

Ideally, we would really only have the top five. However, we’ll concede that seven is an acceptable number which means that we’re calling on everyone else to put an end to their campaigns. Huckabee and Paul are fine conservatives, but Huckabee is better on television and Paul is better in the Senate. Kasich is only even around this long because he can deliver the all-important Ohio in a general election, but otherwise his biggest claim to fame has been attacking Trump.

Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum don’t really deserve to be mentioned and should follow Bobby Jindal out the door. All are good men. None of them will be President.

The Republicans need to consolidate behind a handful of candidates before 2016 in an ideal situation but definitely before the Iowa caucus. Those who are clinging onto some strange hope of a miracle should be conceding that this just wasn’t their election to win.

Michio Hasai

+Michio Hasai is a social strategist and car guy. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.