The Republican Party is apparently tired of watching the deck being stacked against its presidential nominees.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Thursday issued a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the governing body of the events, saying the GOP will change its rules to block its candidate from participating in the debates, unless the CPD adopts some of the “commonsense reforms” proposed by the Republicans.
As McDaniel tweeted, “For years, the Commission on Presidential Debates has shown bias against Republicans. Since they continue to stonewall commonsense reforms, the RNC is leveling the playing field to make debates fair for future nominees.”
McDaniel’s letter noted that the GOP has been trying to get a fair hearing for its grievances since March 2021, and so far its complaints have not been addressed.
She wrote that last June she pointed out in “good faith” the CPD’s “serious missteps and the partisan actions of its board members,” which combined “have damaged the RNC’s faith that the CPD can provide a fair and impartial forum for presidential debates.”
“Unfortunately, neither the tone nor the substance of your latest response inspires confidence that the CPD will meaningfully address the serious issues which the RNC has raised.”
Those issues stemmed from the 2020 election.
The RNC’s complaints, according to McDaniel, included that the first debate was held after early voting began, that the CPD picked a moderator who had once worked for Joe Biden, and that the commission did nothing when its board members publicly disparaged then-President Donald Trump.
“The CPD must address these glaring failures if the organization is to have any credibility with the Republican Party and its 74 million voters moving forward,” she wrote.
To win back the GOP and its candidate, McDaniel said, the CPD must:
- Adopt term limits for its board
- Schedule at least one debate before early voting begins
- Enact a rule prohibiting board members from making public comments for or against a candidate, or engaging in any partisan activity
- Establish “transparent” criteria for picking moderators, including disqualifying those with “apparent” conflicts of interest
- And implement a code for moderators that spells out guidelines for “appropriate” interactions with the candidates, and imposes “meaningful” penalties for violations
The RNC previously had requested that a nonvoting representative from each party be permitted to observe the CPD board meetings, and that suggestion was reiterated, according to the letter.
“These proposals are common sense solutions for an organization whose unique, nonpartisan role in American elections requires it to stand above the political fray,” McDaniel wrote.
Yet, unless the CPD acts now, she expressed doubt that the CPD would make any suitable changes before the next GOP nominee is supposed to debate the Democratic nominee in 2024.
“The RNC has a duty to ensure that its future presidential nominees have the opportunity to debate their opponents on a level playing field,” McDaniel concluded.
“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.”
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