A few years ago, the first presidential debate was supposed to be the moment when Republicans finally had their chance to prove to the American public that they can govern, or at least not be bought off with promises to cut taxes and cut the deficit.
Instead, they ended up being the only candidates to make any progress toward that goal.
A debate that focused on the economy, immigration and national security was overshadowed by the ongoing scandal over a Russian government-sponsored propaganda campaign aimed at swaying voters.
The debates were supposed to highlight the Republican Party’s strengths.
Instead the focus was on its weaknesses, as candidates tried to sell themselves as more moderate.
In the process, they failed to connect with voters.
The candidates’ failure to connect on those issues is one of the reasons why the 2020 campaign has become such a major story.
That’s not to say that every Republican who runs for president will run as a moderate.
But a majority of GOP voters want to see a different approach to governing.
They want to know if the Republican nominee can show the kind of bipartisanship that has kept the country safe and secure for decades, or if he or she will use that kind of compromise to hurt their chances at the White House in the coming elections.
In 2016, the candidates who lost the most votes from Democrats in the House and Senate gave voters a reason to think that they would be more likely to be elected.
Those same voters will be more inclined to cast ballots for a moderate if they see a Republican president, who will have the support of moderate Democrats.
Democrats in the Senate, for example, would be less likely to support the nominee if he had not been a member of the Senate minority, who has a larger percentage of Democrats in his or her caucus than the Republicans who lost their seats.
And those moderates are the ones that the Republican party needs in 2020.