RNC: Presidential Debates Group Needs to Fix 'Intolerable' Situation

Chair McDaniel says if debates aren't made more 'fair,' she'll advise GOP nominees not to take part
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2021 8:27 AM CDT
RNC Demands Big Changes of Presidential Debates Group
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel speaks during a news conference on Nov. 9, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The 2024 election is still awhile off, but the Republican National Committee is already making demands regarding that year's presidential debates. On Tuesday, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates saying that big changes are needed for both the format of the debates and the CPD itself—and that if the CPD doesn't agree to those changes, she'll advise GOP nominees not to take part in the candidate faceoffs, reports the Hill. The RNC's main beef with the CPD, per McDaniels' letter: the "repeated missteps" and "partisan actions" of the organization's board, making the debate setup not a "fair and impartial" one. "Our sincere hope is that the CPD accepts this criticism and works to correct its mistakes," McDaniel notes, saying she'd like a response by July 31. "If not ... the RNC will look for other options for its candidates to debate the issues before the American people in a neutral and nonpartisan forum."

"This situation is intolerable, and the RNC can no longer give the CPD the benefit of the doubt," McDaniel adds. Among changes the RNC seeks: term limits for CPD members, at least one debate before early voting starts, and a ban on CPD members making public comments on nominees. The RNC also wants more transparency on how moderators are chosen, and the barring of journalists "who have an appearance of bias due to personal, professional, or partisan factors," per CNN. That outlet notes the nonpartisan CPD—which has hosted the presidential and VP debates since 1988—has "drawn some controversy" in the past, but not like prior to the 2020 election. The Hollywood Reporter notes the first debate between former President Trump and then-candidate Joe Biden was a mess, with Trump talking over Biden and both men ignoring time limits. The CPD canceled their second debate because Trump wouldn't accept a virtual format after his COVID diagnosis. (More Republican National Committee stories.)

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