Ever since Mitt Romney's 2012 defeat, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has promised to protect future candidates from the "circus" of embarrassing presidential debates. At its last meeting, the RNC made good on this by announcing a smaller number of sanctioned debates—none of them moderated by the forward-leaning progressive hosts of MSNBC. Today, radio host Hugh Hewitt was announced as the lead voice (not the moderator, but the asker of questions) at a September 16 debate hosted by CNN.
Conservatives greeted the news with a mixture of joy and euphoria. Hewitt's one of the sharpest interviewers in politics, period, a maestro of opening questions that stop guests short and of Socratic follow-ups that weaken their talking points. Just last month, he eviscerated Catholic League founder Bill Donohue over the self-appointed morality czar's criticism of Charlie Hebdo. Last year, after a Huffington Post economics reporter wrote a critical item on Dick Cheney, Hewitt pop-quizzed him with questions about Lawrence Wright and Alger Hiss.