PBS NewsHour coverage of the 42nd Republican Debate

 PBS NewsHour coverage of the 42nd Republican Debate

Jim: This is Jim Lehrer and welcome to the 42nd Republican Debate which will be broadcast live tonight from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. PBS will provide coverage of this historic event and my co-presenter for this evening will be Gwen Ifill, along with commentary by our very own Mark Shields and David Brooks.

Jim: As you know Gwen, now that Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, John Huntsman, Rick Perry,  Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have dropped out of the race due to poor polling and lack of majority support in the primaries from their constituents, the GOP has taken some pretty dramatic steps to find new candidates to put up for the 2012 election.

Gwen: That’s true Jim. I never thought I’d see another Presidential run by Ronald Reagan in my lifetime, especially since he’s dead.

Jim: Yes, we’ll have some Constitutional scholars on the program post-debate to discuss the legal merits of the 2012 Reagan candidacy, but let’s face it Gwen, the pols in Washington have been eating this up. It adds a level of excitement we haven’t seen in politics since, well, since 1980.

Shields: Jim, you’ve got to admit, Reagan looks good tonight. We all heard the rumors about Nancy resurrecting him and no one believed it, but if anyone could bring the former President back to life for another run for the White House, its Mrs. Reagan. That said, it’s going to be a hard road for the Reagans, especially since Ronald Reagan has already served two terms as President.

Jim: – Smirking –

Brooks: Given where the GOP stands today, and the Tea Party’s extreme right-of-center view, I don’t think any of that will matter Mark. Reagan doesn’t stand a chance of convincing a 2012 Republican base that he’s their man, no matter how much of an icon he’s become since he passed away in 2004.

Jim: Mark, the real question on everyone’s mind tonight is who else will be debating Reagan? Who do you think the GOP has up its right sleeve?

Shields: Rumor has it, Jim, that old Tricky Dick himself may be making an appearance on the podium tonight.

Jim: President Nixon?

Shields: Yep. The GOP is arguing since Nixon never got to finish his final term in office that he should be eligible for another second term.

Brooks: I hadn’t heard that, but it wouldn’t surprise me Mark. Nixon still garners tremendous respect from Republicans. After all, wasn’t it Nixon who lead the way in wiretapping without a subpoena? This was a trend later made popular by George W. Bush. Also, Nixon never cheated on his wife, which has always gone over well with the base.

Gwen: – Incredulous look at Brooks –

Jim: Okay, aside from the dead Presidents, who else does the GOP have for the debate tonight? Gwen, what have you heard?

Gwen: A source close to the White House says that Barack Obama may, in fact, be the GOP candidate Jim, but no one is confirming it publicly.

Jim: Pardon?

Gwen: Jim, many are saying Obama is the best choice the GOP has right now. He could easily beat Reagan, as we’ve discussed, and it’s pretty likely he’d kick Nixon’s skinny white butt too.

Jim: Gwen, I…

Shields: I wasn’t going to say anything until it was confirmed Jim, but Gwen’s right. Barack Obama is almost definitely going to be the GOP nominee. He’s got all the right credentials: he’s kept Gitmo open, he’s signed laws allowing the unlimited detention of Americans, and he managed to keep both the Iraq and Afghani wars going long enough to satisfy even the most hawkish neo-cons in the GOP.

Brooks: I have to agree with Mark and Gwen on this one, Jim.

Jim: Well this may be a first in American history folks, a sitting Democratic President will also be the GOP’s nominee. Let’s tune in now as the candidates have filed on the stage and hear what they have to say for themselves….

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