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Keller @ Large: Time To Tidy Up Presidential Debates

BOSTON (CBS) -- Decluttering. Everybody's doing it, sparked by the best-selling book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up."

And now that we've seen cattle-call debates from both major parties, maybe it's time to bring clarity and focus to future ones by thinning the herd a bit.

For instance, former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee is regularly pulling zero percent support in the polls. Zero! And this exchange last night didn't hint at room for growth:

Anderson Cooper: You voted for the very bill that made banks bigger.

Chafee: Glass/Steagall was my very first vote, my dad had died, I was just appointed to the office, it was my very first vote.

Cooper: Are you saying you didn't know what you voted for?

Chafee: I had just arrived in the Senate.

At least former Senator Jim Webb, another Democrat barely fogging up the campaign mirror, has a specific issue niche to justify his virtually-invisible candidacy, that of old-school centrist Democrat. In an interview Wednesday, Chafee responded to Wolf Blitzer's suggestion that he fold now to avoid further damage to his reputation by insisting that "the establishment just does not want to hear an antiwar voice."

Does Bernie Sanders know about this?

There's also plenty of room for decluttering in the Republican field, where five candidates haven't shown significant support in a poll in weeks. But then again, there are books to peddle, profiles to heighten, and egos to stroke. Meanwhile, voters have to sit through their mostly-useless contributions to debates that could provide a much clearer focus on the legitimate contenders if they weren't around.

This isn't denial of debate access to candidates that have qualified for the ballot; that's a whole different story, although remember that private organizations can invite anyone they choose into debates they host.

The bottom line - move over, also-rans. You've had plenty of time to become relevant, and you've failed.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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