The Republican National Committee is preparing to use its leverage over GOP presidential candidates to require them to pledge to stay away from the bipartisan presidential debates amid a prolonged spat over rules and format.
The party has told the bipartisan Commission on President Debates of its intentions, in a letter that once again blasted the current format of the high-stakes debates, which take place in the fall of presidential election years.
‘So long as the C.P.D. appears intent on stonewalling the meaningful reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the Republican Party as a fair and nonpartisan actor, the R.N.C. will take every step to ensure that future Republican presidential nominees are given that opportunity elsewhere,’ Donald Trump loyalist RNC chair Ronna McDaniel wrote in a letter to the commission, which was reported by the New York Times.
The pressure on the commission comes in the form of proposed rule for the upcoming winter meeting of the RNC. It would amend the rules ‘to prohibit future Republican nominees from participating in C.P.D.-sponsored debates.’
The Republican National Committee says it will take up a rules change requiring candidates to pledge not to participate in debates organized by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates
Candidates would be required to sign a pledge not to take part – which could doom future debates in the established format.
The bipartisan commission responded in a statement provided to DailyMail.com: ‘The CPD deals directly with candidates for President and Vice President who qualify for participation in the CPD’s general election debates. The CPD’s plans for 2024 will be based on fairness, neutrality and a firm commitment to help the American public learn about the candidates and the issues.
Trump clashed with the commission during both his 2016 and 2020 campaigns. In 2016, his campaign was infuriated after Trump was not allowed to seat Bill Clinton sex accusers in a VIP box for one of his debates with Hillary Clinton.
Commission co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf, a former RNC chair, threatened to have them booted, the New York Times reported at the time.
Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathy Shelton, a guest, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s daughters-in-law Lara Trump and Vanessa Trump and daughter Tiffany Trump sit before the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. Trump’s camp sought to seek Clinton sex accusers in a VIP box instead of in the audience
The Trump campaign complained about questions from moderator Chris Wallace, then of Fox News
Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listen during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri
The debate commission was established in 1987
Republicans fumed when 2012 moderator Candy Crowley of CNN corrected GOP nominee Mitt Romney
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel raised the complaints in a blistering letter to the debate commission
Trump has long complained about the debate moderators, and ally and lawyer Rudy Giuliani provided his own list of proposed moderators stocked with conservative media personalities in 2020. In the end, Trump ended up clashing with former Fox News host Chris Wallace, then skipping the 2nd debate after the commission switched it to virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump camp also complained about questioning by debate moderator NBC’s Kristen Welker.
And many Republicans complained that the first 2020 debate was held Sept. 29 after about 1 million votes had been cast – amid numerous states instituting more early voting amid the pandemic.
Established in 1987 as a nonprofit, the commission features party bigs from administration’s past. Its board of directors includes former elected lawmakers from both parties. Third party candidates have long complained that the debates promote the interests of the two major parties.
The commission is chaired by Fahrenkopf and Kenneth Wollack, chair of the National Democratic Institute.