The Republican National Committee on Thursday threatened to bar future presidential nominees from debates sponsored by the nonpartisan commission that has hosted the events for decades.
In a letter sent to the Commission on Presidential Debates and obtained by NBC News, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel accused the organization of failing to enact reforms that “would restore trust in the debates process.”
“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,” McDaniel wrote.
“Accordingly, the RNC 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,” she continued, adding that the GOP and its voters have “lost faith” in the commission.
Former President Donald Trump helped to drive the party’s animosity toward the CPD, repeatedly accusing organizers of treating him unfairly during the 2020 election. He pulled out of a debate in October of that year after the commission made the event virtual after Trump announced he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison called the threat to withdraw from future debates a “tantrum.”
“Republicans can’t win a fair fight and they know it,” Harrison said in the statement. “After years of having their toxic policies exposed on the national stage, the RNC has decided they would rather hide their ideas and candidates from voters.”
CPD has sponsored debates since the 1988 presidential election. It is independent and has no affiliation with a party.
In response to the Republican committee’s threat, the debate commission said it deals directly with the candidates who qualify for the 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 organization said in a statement.
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