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Ten Questions for Republicans That Aren’t Gotchas

November 10, 2015

By Jonathan Bernstein

The mini-tantrums from Republican candidates about the debates have sparked a whole bunch of suggestions about how to improve the formats.

A little variety would be welcome. But a basic improvement can be made right now, in time for the GOP debate Tuesday night on Fox Business channel. Like Vox’s Matt Yglesias, I want hear fewer “tough” questions and more “softballs.”

Yglesias rightly prefers questions about public policy, rather than gotchas about a candidate’s personal history or on his or her flip-flopping.  Questions about issues rather than about politics are far more helpful to the audiences (whether the voters or the more involved party actors).

But in addition, I wish moderators would ask some questions about process, not about the campaign, but about "presidenting" -- that is, the art of being president.

After all, little separates most Republican candidates on government policies. To the extent they honestly differ, it's likely that constraints from Congress and other political players will tend to make those differences irrelevant (the same is true for Democratic contenders). For example, even if Marco Rubio's proposed tax cuts are much larger than Jeb Bush's, both men would wind up supporting and signing whatever tax cut they could get from Congress.  So how a president deals with Congress will matter as much as or more than the specific details of his or her current proposals.

Here are some suggested questions along this line:

1. Of the hundreds of jobs a president has to fill,  which positions would you spend the most time in finding the right candidate for?

Read the full article at Bloomberg View: Ten Questions for Republicans That Aren't Gotchas

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