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Do debates emphasize 'horse race' politics more than policy?

Polls can either be an important indicator of candidate progress during elections or a point of easy fixation.

One former Republican National Committee chairman thinks polls carry too much weight.

"The first thing is that all these debates are about polls, they're about process, about tactics, about who said this about this candidate," Haley Barbour told CNBC's "Power Lunch,"

"Our country is going in the wrong direction at warp speed. About 65 percent of Americans think America's going in the wrong direction. That's more than there are Republicans. That means a lot of Democrats, a lot of independents think we're going in the wrong direction," the former Mississippi governor said Wednesday. "And yet you have a debate and everybody wants to talk about polling, wants to talk about how somebody looks."

Barbour said the media and candidates cannot go about skirting policy issues and that the American people want to know what candidates will do to bring the country back on track, something they haven't been able to determine from the primary debates.

Read More Republican Campaigns Lay Out Their Debate Demands

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said the House and the Senate should collaborate to solve some of the policy matters Americans are concerned about, and new House Speaker Paul Ryan can play a key role in that process.

"I'm very encouraged with Speaker Ryan now," he said on Wednesday's "Power Lunch," adding that Ryan's "pro-growth agenda" will include items like tax reform, regulatory reform and energy policy.

"And how about welfare reform?" Johnson questioned. "We can provide that strong social safety net, care about people, and provide opportunities because really that's the best, best thing for all people."

Presidential Debates