By Wolf Blitzer, CNN
(CNN) – Because I’ve now moderated three of them, I know it will sound self-serving when I say I’ve really enjoyed watching all the Republican presidential debates. There have been about 20 so far, and they have been informative. Like the millions of Americans who’ve watched them on television, I’ve learned a great deal about the candidates. They’ve been really instrumental in shaping public attitudes.
Millions and millions of Americans who’ve watched the debates are now better-informed voters.
That’s why I’ve been so surprised to hear all the criticism.
Sen. John McCain, for example, says enough with the debates.
Like other Republicans, he fears that they have been too angry and will only help the Democrats in the general election. Many Republicans are indeed worried about the candidates airing all their dirty linen in public. Won’t the angry exchanges just provide talking points for President Obama’s re-election campaign?
Sure, there is that possibility. But there is also the possibility that the eventual Republican nominee will emerge from this primary struggle a much better candidate, one better equipped to debate Obama in the three officially sanctioned presidential debates in the fall.
I think you will agree that Mitt Romney, for example, has dramatically improved his debate performance in recent weeks. If he were to get the nomination, he will be much better prepared to take on Obama. The same goes for Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
Obama was a better general election candidate against McCain because he had all that practice dealing with Hillary Clinton.
Four years ago, I moderated four Democratic presidential debates and clearly saw Obama improve his debating skills.
Remember: If you want to be a good tennis player, you need to practice. If you want to be a world-class cellist, you need to practice. If you want to be a great debater, you need to practice.
As my dad used to say: “Practice, practice, practice.”
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