In a couple of weeks, the Democratic Party will hold its first debate of the 2016 Presidential election season. CNN will serve as host on October 13th and it will be held in Las Vegas. While it is doubtful the Democrats will pull in the boffo ratings that the GOP did with its first two debates due to the lack of a certain reality TV star pretending to run for President of the United States, millions will still tune in to see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders confront each other face to face.
While Sanders and Clinton will share the stage with three other candidates who have less than a zero chance of grabbing the nomination — Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb — it appears CNN is trying to allow one more big name a chance to take some more time to decide his fate. Over the past few weeks, Vice President Joe Biden has been wrestling with the possibility of running for the White House once again. The 72-year-old former Senator from Delaware previously ran in 1988 and 2008, only to drop out early both times. However, recent polls show that he would at least be competitive if he sought the Dem nomination.
Therefore, CNN released its debate criteria Monday morning and declared that the Veep would be eligible to participate in the Vegas event as long as he declared his candidacy on the day of the debate and file with the FEC the following morning. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz confirmed Biden’s eligibility during on appearance on Jose Diaz-Balart’s MSNBC show Monday morning, saying that his poll position would make him automatically eligible once he declares himself a candidate.
In the end, this isn’t really all that newsworthy on the surface. The feeling has always been that if Biden declares, he’d immediately be treated like a top-tier candidate and would be invited to all the debates and so forth. However, the fact that CNN made this a story and treated it like breaking news shows the ulterior motives on their part as well. With three no-name candidates on stage with Clinton and Sanders, the lack of fireworks and upstaging behavior threatens the entertainment aspect of this debate, at least in comparison with the clown show going on with the GOP.
Yet, toss a charismatic dude like Biden into the mix, who is seen as a truly competitive choice for Dems, and you have yourself something a bit more marketable. Therein lies the rub. CNN wants to generate some excitement in the lead up to this debate. Why not create some suspense over Biden’s will he/won’t he decision and allow him the chance to wait until the very last minute?
The debate will be moderated by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, with Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Juan Carlos Lopez joining in to ask additional questions. (Really? Don Lemon? Heaven help us!)