News Update

RNC plans to change rules to require candidates pledge not to participate in general election debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates

The letter, which was first reported by The New York Times, was signed by Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel. It was sent to commission co-chairs Frank J. Fahrenkopf and Kenneth Wollack, is the latest in a back-and-forth between the two groups over Republican accusations that the commission is biased.
CNN was first to report in June that McDaniel, in another letter to the commission, threatened to advise any future Republican nominee against participating in general election presidential debates unless significant changes are made by the commission.
The latest letter, which was sent on Thursday, escalates those threats and outlines actions the RNC plans to take.
“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,” the RNC chair wrote.
If changes are not made, she added, the committee will “initiate the process of amending the Rules of the Republican Party at our upcoming Winter Meeting to prohibit future Republican nominees from participating in CPD-sponsored debates.”
The Republican National Committee’s focus on this is yet another example of Republicans relitigating something that was a top concern for former President Donald Trump.
The commission, once a largely anonymous organization that has hosted presidential and vice presidential general election debates since 1988, drew considerable ire from Trump during the 2020 campaign, with he and his campaign aides often railing about the selected moderators, the commission’s decision to hold the second debate virtually during the coronavirus pandemic and the choice to mute each candidate’s mic during the final debate after the first contest included considerable interruptions from the then-President.
The commission eventually canceled the second debate after Trump declined to attend a virtual debate despite concerns over his Covid-19 diagnosis.
In an unsigned statement from the Commission on Presidential Debates, the commission said it “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,” the statement reads.
This story has been updated with additional information about the Republican National Committee’s letter.
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