Friday, May 27, 2016

A debate between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is in the air

A few days ago, Bernie Sanders appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show when he suggested that he should have a debate with Donald Trump. Sanders had actually written a letter to Trump challenging him to a debate after Hillary Clinton shined him on for a debate she already agreed to do. Kimmel read that letter on the air. Twitter followers learned later that Donald Trump does indeed want to debate Bernie Sanders and, Sanders says, "Game on!"

Trump and Sanders have both said that they want to have their debate in the biggest stadium they can find in California. That would be the Los Angeles Coliseum with a capacity to seat 93,000 and the Rose Bowl is not that far behind with seating for 92,000. Both of them are in the biggest city in California. I have a feeling at least one of them is available before the June 7th primary.

Donald Trump has already set one condition: he would like at least $10 million be donated to a cause that supports women's health. The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur has already offered $1 million. Others are bound to chip in. The debate is almost certainly on between the contestants. All that needs to be done is to round up the money and book it.

I can't imagine a more ideal situation for Bernie Sanders. He's behind in pledged delegates, but not really that far behind. Clinton can't clinch the nomination with pledged delegates and we can forget the unpledged superdelegates. They don't vote until the convention. The math at this point guarantees a contested convention. A debate with Trump, without Clinton, might find the superdelegates more favorable to Sanders than Clinton.

It's clear that Clinton didn't see this one coming. She reneged on a debate with Bernie Sanders in May in California, something they both agreed upon earlier this year. She figured that she had this thing all sewn up and didn't need another debate, huh? Now she could be shut out of the first debate between a Democratic and Republican candidate for president for this election. To hold such a debate before the primaries are over is unprecedented. I have to wonder if Debbie Wasserman Schultz has the chutzpah to say that a debate between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is "unsanctioned" and is not allowed. Could she find some obscure rule that precludes this debate?

It probably won't matter to Clinton. Now she's facing the fire from the State Department with their report from the Inspector General, a report that states clearly that Clinton never sought any authorization to use a private email account and server. They add that even if she had asked, her request would have been rejected. This despite her campaign telling us for a year that she followed all the rules. Truth be told, she never even asked. I wonder how her supporters feel.

For Hillary, reneging on a promised debate with Bernie Sanders is probably the greatest miscalculation she has made in this campaign so far. There is no way they could have seen a debate between Sanders and Trump coming - all before the end of the primaries. But to me, and probably many others, it makes total sense. If Trump wants to hobble Hillary's campaign, his timing is perfect. Elite Democrats can fume all they want about how Bernie shouldn't be having this debate, but should be working to bring the party together (behind Clinton). Sanders and Trump have nothing to lose in a debate without Clinton. It's nothing but free publicity for both of them.

We know this is awkward for Clinton. How about the networks? They're going to make boatloads of money selling ads to air during the debate. Yes, they'd have to swallow all that free publicity for Bernie Sanders and they won't like that one bit. Still, a Sanders/Trump debate is expected to pull in huge ratings. To the networks, The $10-15 million Donald wants to donate is chump change because they're going to make far more from advertising than that. Yes, they have to choose a moderator, debate rules, and a venue. But these are smart people with great campaign managers. If they want it to happen, they will make it happen.

Have a seat and grab some popcorn, America. This election just got far more interesting than anyone expected.
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