RNC mulls requiring candidates to avoid debates hosted by Commission on Presidential Debates

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The Republican National Committee (RNC) is taking aim at the organization that for more than three decades has hosted and produced the presidential and vice presidential general election debates.

In a letter from the RNC to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) that Fox News obtained on Thursday, the committee said that it will require its presidential candidates running in the 2024 election cycle to pledge not to participate in debates run by the CPD.

If the RNC follows through with their pledge, it could likely lead to a massive shift in how presidential and vice presidential general election debates are conducted.

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“The RNC has a duty to ensure that its future presidential nominees have the opportunity to debate their opponents on a level playing field,” RNC chair Ronna McDaniel writes in the letter. “So long as the CPD appears intent on stonewalling the meaningful reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the Republican Party as a fair and nonpartisan actor, the RNC will take every step to ensure that future Republican presidential nominees are given that opportunity elsewhere.”

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nov. 6, 2021. 

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nov. 6, 2021.  (Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The RNC’s letter, which was first reported by the New York Times, was fueled by longstanding complaints from then-President Donald Trump and GOP officials over how the 2020 presidential debates were conducted. And the letter was sent after months of talks between the RNC and the commission.

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Responding to the letter, the commission told Fox News that “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.”

The move by the RNC requiring Republican presidential candidates to refuse to take part in CPD debates is expected to be voted on by committee members when the RNC holds its winter meeting early next month in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Fox News’ Lee Ross contributed to this report.

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