Some might view the seven Republican candidates who didn't make the cut for the first primetime GOP debate as rejects, but that doesn't mean their "happy hour debate" is any less important than the main event. In fact, you'd be doing yourself a disservice to treat the earlier forum as a throwaway. There are many reasons you should watch the 5 p.m. Republican candidate debate. Besides learning more about these still-viable candidates — there is the definite possibility that one or more of these "rejects" could very well surge ahead later in the race — the earlier debate is expected to generate a more productive and amicable discussion. Or, at the very least, watch to see what hilarious gems come out of Lindsey Graham's mouth.
Using the averages from five national polls, Fox News culled the top 10 candidates for its first GOP primetime debate: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. That means that there are seven announced candidates who will be relegated to the opening act, and these are:
- Rick Perry
- Rick Santorum
- Bobby Jindal
- Carly Fiorina
- Lindsey Graham
- George Pataki
- Jim Gilmore
Though they won't have the opportunity to go head to head with frontrunners like Jeb Bush — or put Donald Trump in his place — and their earlier debate is expected to draw substantially fewer viewers, these seven candidates are excited to debate nonetheless. Graham, who is now as famous for his Grahamisms as he is for his political position, even affectionately dubbed it the "Happy Hour Debate" and referred to it as "pregaming for the Trump Debacle."
All jokes aside, the 5 p.m. debate will cover the same important issues that the primetime debate is expected to address, and every American voter owes it to themselves to tune in. Here are four reasons to watch the 5 p.m. Republican debate.
Get A Better Sense Of These Candidates
It's important to be reminded that it's still pretty early in the primary race. A lot can happen between now and next summer — leading candidates can fall behind (all it takes is one really bad gaffe) and trailing contenders can gain momentum (all it takes is one well-timed speech) — so it's wise to have a well-rounded and comprehensive understanding of all the candidates.
It Might Help Inform Your Decision
If you're a Republican and you're on the fence about who to support (who can blame you when your choices include legitimately crazy people like Trump, Cruz, and Carson), watching the lesser-known candidates might lead you to a clearer decision. Some pundits are expecting Fiorina, the former HP exec, to really hit it out of the ballpark. Other more seasoned politicians, like the Ricks, have been doing forums like this for years, and they'll likely make articulate cases for their positions. Who knows? Maybe someone will say something that really galvanizes you to a particular issue.
And if you're a Democrat, maybe what they say will really solidify your stance on the opposite side.
The 5 P.M. Discussion Might Be More Productive
Though they'll cover the same big-issue topics, like foreign policy, climate change, and the economy, one major difference between the 5 p.m. debate and the headlining event could be tone. Because there's significantly more pressure on the headliners to perform well, they'll likely resort to heated arguments, flat-out attacks, and "oh snap!" moments (as we've seen in the past). Without that pressure, the seven candidates in the earlier debate could have a much more amicable discussion — although Jindal is a loose cannon that might throw a wrench in this whole theory.
Lindsey Graham Is Hilarious
Since he first announced his candidacy at the beginning of June, he's been surprising the public left and right with brilliant witticisms, from the subtle to the completely over the top. His feud with Trump and his subsequent response has humanized him in the eyes of America, and even if you don't agree with his political platform, you can agree that he's indisputably entertaining. So, at the very least, watch for a few of his now-famous Grahamisms.