The New York Times ran an article that said big time Republican Party donors were trying to clear the presidential field of like-minded establishment candidates so that the donors could put their resources behind one candidate.
Stu Spencer, who was Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager, thinks that is a bad idea.
“There is nothing wrong with a wide-open primary,” Spencer insists. “The bundlers want to clear the field, but you don’t want to clear the field.” Spencer says all segments of the party should feel they have a voice. What’s important, he says, is what happens after the primary campaign. The party has to come together after the primary to get behind the winning candidate. He insisted that would not happen if certain segments of the party feel shut out.
Some Republican consultants say it’s a mistake to repeat the primary debate performances of 2012 when many candidates shared a stage.
There is nothing wrong with ten people on the stage, Spencer says, as long as they understand that when the primary season is over they are going to support the winner.
“Having a guy like Rand Paul in the competition is a good thing. He brings new ideas to the table. That’s good for the party.” Spencer knows presidential races test the mettle of any candidate. “This is a jungle, you have to get through the jungle. It will help you learn.”
Spencer is a big proponent of the primary season as an education time for a candidate. The candidate improves his or her skills in the primary. Spencer related his conversation with Jimmy Carter aide, Hamilton Jordan. In 1976, Carter started the primary season with 11% in the polls. He learned so much during the primaries, Jordan told Spencer, that he was more polished and ready for the general election campaign because of what he learned in the primaries.
Spencer said the big donors should not determine how a presidential campaign be contested.