Some may wonder if there is really a need for this.
Last month the Democratic Party trotted out 20 of their presidential candidates for an, um, epic pair of debates on back-to-back nights.
Somehow, this wasn’t even all of the available candidates, and rather than winnow down the field, the debates only seemed to have encouraged more candidates (come on down, billionaire Tom Steyer) to enter the race.
This week they’re going to do it all over again, still with an unwieldy 20 candidates split into two debates.
Why do this? Only five candidates have gained any traction in national polls and it seems likely the eventual winner will emerge from that group: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg.
Energetic, smart and charismatic Cory Booker is still on the fringe of viability, and former HUD secretary Julian Castro — after a good first debate — appears to be making more of a case as a vice presidential frontrunner for whoever really wins.
For the remaining 13 candidates on the debate stage, though, this may be their last gasp and honestly, I think that each of them — like the poker player with a single chip in front of him — has a chance, albeit slim, to become a real factor.
Here’s what each of the desperate candidates must do or say if they want to be viable by the time the debates, mercifully, get smaller and pickier in September.
Beto O’Rourke — The young Texan has plummeted in the polls but this promise could resonate with Democratic voters: “Select me and I will give my home state of Texas its independence — eliminating both the need for a border wall with Mexico and 38 Republican electoral votes.”
Andrew Yang — Yang’s entire platform is to give each American $12,000. If he can promise $120,000 instead, that should be enough to sweep the election.
Bill de Blasio — “I will disband the New York Yankees and redistribute their players to swing state teams in Tampa, Milwaukee, Detroit, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati.”
Amy Klobuchar — The feisty Midwesterner needs to challenge Bernie Sanders to a steel cage death match, which will eliminate one rival and bring millions of pay-per-view dollars into her campaign.
John Hickenlooper — “Vote for me, or Thanos will wreak a terrible revenge on all of you! Or, you know, at least 50 percent of you.”
Kirsten Gillibrand — President Trump once said he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. The New York senator needs to test this theory, dramatically pulling out her cell phone to show actual footage of Trump gunning down a beloved figure (Amelia Earhart? Tupac Shakur? Jon Snow?)
Michael Bennet — “I will personally lead the assault on Area 51 and bring alien technology to every American home.”
Marianne Williamson — Most thought the self-help author and spiritual advisor was loony when she talked about defeating Donald Trump with love. But what if what she really meant was “I’d like to announce my engagement to my beloved Donald Trump, who will make me his fourth wife as soon as his divorce is final, and has vowed to let me run the country, you know, as a wedding present.”
Tim Ryan — “I am not Paul Ryan. He is a completely different person. A congressman from a totally different Midwestern state. Come on, I’m Tim Ryan. Tim Ryan!”
John Delaney — I’ve got nothing. Editor, please have an intern insert a flippant remark here.
Steve Bullock — The only new face this time around, Bullock should steal a page from the brilliant debate strategies of Donald J. Trump, who belittled and insulted his Republican foes into submission. On night one he can strike fear into the hearts of “Pocahontas,” “Old Guy,” “Gay Dude,” “Space Cadet,” “Skateboard weirdo,” “Klobo-cop,” and “John Delaney.”
Jay Inslee — The environmental candidate has his heart in the right place about a crucial issue. All Americans would love to stop climate change, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them in any way. “I can save the polar ice caps and completely eliminate the need for fossil fuels if U.S. citizens can just agree to give up kale!”
Tulsi Gabbard — “All Americans are welcome to stay at my place when you visit Hawaii. Free Spam for everyone!”
Tune in to CNN Tuesday and Wednesday to see who is willing to swing for the fences and stay alive in the race for the presidency, and who will quietly fade into obscurity.
Email Steve Ouellette at: firstname.lastname@example.org.