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Sununu: Trump Could Turn Debates Into Reality Show

John Sununu, former Republican chief of staff to Pres. George H.W. Bush, says that he has issues with basing Republican debate participation on polling if it means excluding lesser known candidates and including high-profile ones like new entrant Donald Trump.

In an interview with Larry King, Sununu was asked about Trump being included when others, like Ohio governor John Kasich, might not make it because he did not poll as well.

Trump is famously a real estate magnate and reality TV show star, while two Ohio governors have already made it to the White House—Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley, and others, from both parties, have at least secured the nomination.

Sununu said he was happy he did not have to make the decision about who to let into a debate, but said of Trump bumping Kasich or Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): "I think that would be a mistake. That becomes not a debate, but a reality show."

But Sununu conceded the Republicans had a tough job incorporating their large flock of candidates. "The more the merrier. but they have to make a decision on how to handle it. Something they can handle, something that is not ungainly. Something that doesn't look horrible. Something that doesn't have 20 people standing on the stage."

According to recent polls, Trump, who just got into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, is already running second to Jeb Bush in New Hampshire, site of a key early primary.

Asked by CNN about the talk that he could bump others off the debate stage, Trump suggested that was appropriate. "I'm far more accomplished than they are," he said.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.