Mid-day Extra: Are presidential debates free advertising?

Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich participate in a debate at Constitution Hall November 22, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Last night's Republican presidential debate was the 11th this year, which is a high number -- at least for this point in the election cycle.

An article in TheWrap.com suggests one of the reasons that we keep hearing about lead changes  among the candidates and is because of the number of debates. Specifically because the flavor of the month doesn't need to be the one raising the most money -- and spending it on commercials.

In today's Mid-day Extra, we ask: What does the ease of debating on TV mean for this year's presidential candidates?

For answers, we went to Michael Malbin, SUNY professor and executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute. Good morning.

He says that while it might seem like having so many candidates debate so often might get old, it still beats the alternative: not having a relatively cheap platform for outsider candidates to get their ideas into the public realm.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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