News Center

November 18th, 2011

The Des Moines Register Loses Its Presidential Debate

More articles by »
Written by: Craig Robinson

The Des Moines Register’s streak of holding a presidential debate in every presidential election since 1980 has come to end.  Wednesday evening, the Des Moines Register abandoned its plans to hold a Republican presidential debate in conjunction with Google and Iowa Public Television.  The Register’s debate was scheduled for December 19th.

Instead, the Register will play a relatively minor role in the ABC News/Republican Party of Iowa debate that has been on the books for quite some time now.  That debate will be held on December 10th.   The Register, which will get some branding and the ability to submit questions to be considered by debate moderators Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos, is painting a picture that their involvement in the ABC News debate will ensure that the debate is fair and independent.

I understand that it’s important for the Register to save face and still be part of a major presidential debate, but the reason there is no Des Moines Register debate in 2011 is because their debate in 2007 was such an embarrassment.  Not only did the Register hold its debate in the middle of the workday in 2007, but it also took the major issues of concern off of the table and allowed Alan Keyes on the debate stage.  Keyes had not even held a single campaign event in Iowa that year.

Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer called the Register’s 2007 debate, “crushingly dull,” and added, “That was not just the worst debate of 2007, that was the worst debate in western history, and that includes the ancient Greeks.”

Other news outlets and late night shows also mocked the debate.

The Des Moines Register is not holding a presidential debate for the first time in 30 years because they lost all credibility four years ago.  No matter how they want to spin it, how they conducted their Republican debate in 2007 has weakened their already diminished influence on the caucus process and cost them a high profile debate.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

blog comments powered by Disqus