Commentary

The Nevada question they should have asked at the debate

August 24, 2023 5:00 am

Alas, we may never know what Nikki Haley thinks about Nevada or Nevadans. (Photo: Henry Redman/Wisconsin Examiner)

Republicans who say they are running for president debated Wednesday night. Key takeaway: Vivek Ramaswamy is infomercial-ready.

And poor Ron DeSantis. The other kids hardly even bothered to make fun of him, deciding instead to let him toddle into the footnotes of presidential campaign history under his own power.

Dear Leader Trump wasn’t there of course because he’s convinced polls confirm his belief that he has no obligation whatsoever to respect any voters, least of all his adoring own.

But a disturbing majority of the debaters swore assorted versions of worshipful deference to him anyway.

Nevada being the third state in the primary/caucus lineup, the moderators might have asked at least one question with a Nevada angle.

No, not that one, though no doubt if and when any candidates come here someone will dutifully ask them about Yucca Mountain.

The Nevada question moderators should have asked is this one:

Nevada is next after Iowa and New Hampshire. A fake elector in Nevada runs the state Republican Party and has scheduled a presidential caucus on Feb. 8. But the state of Nevada by law must hold a presidential preference primary two days earlier. The fake elector says if any of you file as candidates for the primary you will not be allowed to participate in the caucus. Do you intend to file for the primary, or the caucus, and why?

Even the probable answer from most of them – “our campaign hasn’t made that determination yet” – would have been a fun answer because it would embarrass and (further) demean the aforementioned fake elector who chairs the state party, Michael McDonald. 

But more importantly, the question is yet another one about Trump’s shocking attempt to steal the 2020 election, which Republicans need to be asked about repeatedly and from multiple angles for the rest of the campaign and, for that matter, the rest of their political careers, just like any other Republican politician who has played footsie with Trump and Trumpism (oh hi Joe Lombardo!). 

Alas, it would be quite the surprise if the question would have been asked. Nevada’s third-in-the-nation presidential contest has thus far garnered about as much attention from the candidates and the national media as the cabbage awarded a third-place ribbon at this summer’s Iowa State Fair. Moderators didn’t even ask about the Yucca Mountain of Iowa, ethanol, let alone New Hampshire’s pet issue. Whatever it is.

But maybe Las Vegas will get a Republican presidential debate of its own.

Stranger things have happened. Multiple times.

Tucked into a recent Review-Journal sis-boom-bah rah-rah-rah report on how important and special and wonderful Southern Nevada is, articulated mostly via the unbridled optimism-on-demand of area cheerleader-in-chief emeritus Billy Vassilliadis, was a line saying McDonald plans, or wants – ok hopes – to have a debate among GOP presidential candidates prior to the Nevada caucus/primary. (Caucmary? Pricus? Maybe just go with cockamamie).

Nevada, or Las Vegas to be specific, has hosted lots of presidential debates since Harry Reid secured the state an early spot in the nomination process prior to the 2008 cycle, a thing Reid did so he could leverage the hoopla into a Democratic voter registration drive to help Reid win reelection in 2010. (Reid was reelected, but only because Republican voters nominated Sharron Angle ha ha.)

In 2016, Las Vegas even hosted a general election presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And look where that got everyone.

Still, could there be a Republican debate in Nevada this year?

Participation in Wednesday night’s debate in Milwaukee was based on criteria set by the Republican National Committee. The RNC will also set criteria for the second debate next month in Simi Valley, and then one after that in October in Alabama. And presumably the debates that follow. Assuming there are any.

The RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel, is Mitt Romney’s estranged niece, which is always a fun thing to mention but neither here nor there. More to the point, McDaniel and the RNC has found navigating Trump just as degrading and humiliating as most Republican elected officials have over the last several years (oh hi Joe Lombardo!). 

As if McDaniel & Friends weren’t juggling enough fruits in the air already, Nevada’s representatives on the RNC are Jim DeGraffenreid, one of McDonald’s fellow fake electors, and Sigal Chattah, who is perpetually over-animated by … whatever is unfortunate enough to find its way into her line of sight. 

Toss in McDonald’s Grifty McGrifter move to tap his cockamamie caucus as a revenue model ($55,000 candidate filing fee lol), and it’s clear that if in fact the RNC scheduled a Republican presidential debate in Nevada, it would be despite McDonald and the rest of the state party’s “leadership,” not because of them.

By the time Nevada is on the presidential campaign calendar in February, there might be only one Republican candidate left anyway. In that case, maybe McDonald can schedule a debate between Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., billed as a show of bipartisan big tent derangement and moderated by Wayne Allyn Root.

A curiosity like that, broadcast on some conspiracy-soaked corner of the internet, and not an actual presidential debate broadcast by a national news network, seems more the Nevada State Republican Party’s speed.

Meanwhile, infomercial host Ramaswamy, DeSantis the footnote, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, that governor from some Dakota or other, and the rest of the Republican presidential “hopefuls” may be spared ever having to explain how they feel about having anything to do with a Nevada State Republican Party run by a disgraced fake elector. 

Lucky them. That same luxury won’t be available anytime soon in Nevada, where Trump, and his lapdog McDonald, too, will continue to be willingly stomached by Republican politicians (oh hi Joe Lombardo!).

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