The RNC has itself to blame for the burnout. Sources say the committee foresaw the unexceptional field of candidates this summer and, hoping to compensate with quantity, scheduled the 115 debates.
Now the party is reportedly considering canceling some debates because of the wear and tear on the candidates.
The RNC spokesperson said exhaustion likely was responsible for Herman Cain’s “unfortunate” response to questions about Libya put to him Monday by the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Cain had trouble recalling what stance President Obama had taken during the uprising. The candidate ruefully explained to the editorial board that he had “all this stuff twirling around in my head.” An aide later said Cain “was on about four hours of sleep.”
Fatigue also may have played a role in Saturday’s debate in South Carolina, during which Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas governor Rick Perry voiced their support for waterboarding. Their position was criticized after the debate by Republican senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Bachmann has since said she was sleep-deprived the evening of the debate, and, in her lightheadedness, confused waterboarding with an Olympic surfing event.
Perry said he had “no recollection” of any comments he made Saturday. But he said he supported a reduction in debates because he felt the grueling schedule had hurt his performance thus far. “On a full night’s shut-eye, I can remember way more than two agencies,” the governor maintained.
Newt Gingrich appears to be the only candidate opposed to a lighter debate schedule. An aide to the former House speaker said extra sleep wouldn’t benefit him because he "is just as cranky when fully rested." Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said he had a “strong view on the debate issue,” but wanted to consult the polls to determine what it was.