Tag Archives: Format

My Ideal GOP Debate

After Donald Trump’s embarrassing showing on Hugh Hewitt’s superb radio program, I had an idea for a GOP debate.

Here’s how it would work:

The candidates, however chosen, would appear on stage as they normally do. Except now, they also have a buzzer and a final Jeopardy! writing board.

A random order would be chosen, and the candidates would first be asked to answer a trivia question on something a Presidential candidate should ostensibly know.


  • Name two types of refundable tax credits.
  • Which is the largest branch of the military?
  • What is the highest marginal tax rate?
  • Under the Congressional Review Act, how many days does Congress have to disapprove of a regulation?

You get the point. Nothing too hard, nothing too easy. Generally, something a 27 year old hill staffer could answer. This is the introductory round.

Get the initial trivia question correct, 30 seconds is added to your clock, visible to the audience. Like money in Jeopardy! (This time is kept on as a point system of sorts.)

For getting a question right, you get a follow-up question about your policy proposals or what you would do in a certain situation, much like a regular debate. You’ll have 30 seconds — not deducted from your clock time — to answer to keep things flowing.

Here’s where it gets fun. After two rounds of each of the ten candidates having the opportunity to get the preliminary question correct, we move to the lightning rounds.

This is where all candidates will be asked a preliminary question, and the first to buzz in gets an opportunity to answer it. Get it wrong, lose 30 seconds. Others can then buzz in if they’re wrong. Get it right? Get 30 seconds.

There would be three lightning rounds with 10 questions, and if any candidate is at 0:00 or negative time after a lightning round, they’re out of the debate.

During the lightning round, there would not be a follow-up question as there was in the introductory round. Only the trivia questions and an opportunity to win time.

After the lightning rounds, there is a single question (like in Final Jeopardy!) where those remaining can wager time and answer the question in writing.

Those who survive move to the last round, which is two more sets of trivia questions / follow-up questions, like in the preliminary round.

And at the end, we would likely have a definitive winner: the person with the most time. And they get to use that amount of time to make a stump speech while the others watch.

Sound fun? I think so. But it will never happen.