(USA Features) A leading Republican adviser and deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign said Friday the Republican National Committee may drop out of cable and broadcast TV debates in 2024 unless the panel in charge of them makes substantial format changes.
“We don’t need to count on just the networks,” David Bossie, president of Citizens United, told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show, Politico reported. “There are so many opportunities out there, so many platforms out there that we can go to and partner with to get the message out.”
“They’re asking questions really not to impact primary Republican voters, but to have ‘gotcha’ questions and answers for the general election debate, because they all want to see their question and answer played during the general election,” Bossie added.
“We have to not allow bad actors to infiltrate our debate process.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates has been overseeing the process of scheduling debates and laying out ground rules for them since 1988, Politico noted.
In the most recent cycle, Fox News host Chris Wallace, a registered Democrat, was heavily criticized for his handling of the first debate between then-President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Not only was he accused of allowing the forum to get out of hand as both candidates regularly interrupted and talked over each other, but he was widely seen as being more prone to try and control Trump than Biden.
Trump backed out of the second debate because it was going to be held virtually due to the COVID pandemic. But Republican observers criticized the commission’s choice of moderator — CNBC’s Steve Scully, who once worked for Biden.
And in 2016, CNN contributor and former DNC chair Donna Brazile was caught giving the Hillary Clinton campaign questions in advance of a debate she was to moderate.
Earlier this month, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel sent a letter to the commission suggesting her organization would sit out 2024 debates without format changes.
“The CPD’s repeated missteps and the partisan actions of its Board Members make clear that the organization no longer provides the fair and impartial forum for presidential debates which the law requires and the American people deserve,” the letter said.
“Our sincere hope is that the CPD accepts this criticism and works to correct its mistakes,” she added.
“If not, the RNC will have no choice but to advise future Republican candidates against participating in CPD-hosted debates, and the RNC will look for other options for its candidates to debate the issues before the American people in a neutral and nonpartisan forum.”