RNC threatens to bar candidates from participating in official presidential debates

Trump withdrew from a debate the nonprofit commission hosted in October 2020 after organizers made it virtual following his Covid diagnosis.

The Republican National Committee is considering changing its bylaws to bar Republican presidential candidates from participating in debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

“While the CPD appears intent on obstructing the meaningful reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the GOP as a fair, nonpartisan player, the RNC will take every step to ensure that future Republican presidential candidates have that chance at other places,” the RNC said. Chair Ronna McDaniel wrote in a letter Thursday to Frank Fahrenkopf and Kenneth Wollack, the co-chairs of the debate commission.

McDaniel said the party would kick off the rule change at its winter meeting, which is scheduled for February in Salt Lake City.

The letter was first reported by The New York Times.

The nonprofit commission, run by members of both parties and considered nonpartisan, drew the ire of former President Donald Trump during the 2020 election. Trump walked out of a debate the commission hosted in October 2020 after that the organizers made it virtual after his covid diagnosis.

The RNC said it wants the commission to commit to a debate before the start of early voting and agree not to hold a showdown after state deadlines for mailing absentee ballots to military personnel and overseas voters. . The RNC is also seeking term limits for commission board members and a ban on partisan political activity by commission officials and staff.

The party also requested that the commission make its moderator selection process transparent, as well as adopt a code of conduct for debate moderators.

“These proposals are common sense solutions for an organization whose unique, nonpartisan role in US elections requires it to stay above the political fray,” the RNC said.

Trump repeatedly lashed out at the debate commission in the fall of 2020. In late 2019, he tweeted that the commission was “full of Trump Haters & Never Trumpers” and suggested he would skip debates altogether. In September 2020, after the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Trump took aim at moderator Chris Wallace and tweeted that the event amounted to “two on one.”

In response, the commission said in a statement: “The CPD deals directly with presidential and vice-presidential candidates who qualify to participate in the CPD general election debates.

“CPD’s plans for 2024 will be based on fairness, neutrality, and a strong commitment to helping the American public learn about candidates and issues,” the statement continued.

The two entities began reform talks last spring, spearheaded by Fahrenkopf and RNC member David Bossie, a former senior Trump campaign official, according to the letter. The RNC said the commission has not taken action to address its concerns for months.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison described the RNC’s announcement as a “tantrum” and added that “voters can count on hearing from President Biden and Vice President Harris, who are proud of their records.”

“Republicans can’t win a fair fight and they know it,” Harrison said in a statement. “After years of having their toxic policies exposed on the national stage, the RNC decided they would rather hide their ideas and candidates from voters. And during the last presidential election, the Republicans decided not to have a platform for the first time. It’s a progression natural, first without a platform and now without debates”.

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