The Republican National Committee prepares to ban future GOP candidates from participating in presidential debates

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  • The RNC is preparing to ban future GOP presidential candidates from participating in debates.
  • RNC chair Ronna McDaniel listed out the GOP’s concerns with the debate commission in a letter on Thursday.
  • The New York Times first reported the news.

The Republican National Committee is preparing to amend its rules to prohibit future GOP presidential candidates from participating in the debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, according to a letter obtained by Insider. The New York Times first reported the news.

Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel detailed ongoing talks the RNC has had with the debate commission since March 2021 in the Thursday letter to the commission’s co-chairs, Frank Fahrenkopf and Kenneth Wollack. She wrote that the RNC’s concerns include the timing of the 2024 presidential debates, changes to debate procedures without prior notification, the selection of debate moderators who allegedly represent a conflict of interest, and failing to maintain nonpartisanship among commission board members.

The debate commission has existed since 1987 and has sponsored presidential debates dating back to 1988. The organization labels itself as nonpartisan and was founded by both parties. Yet Republicans have long said the commission favors Democrats, the NYT reported.

The change hasn’t taken effect yet, but an RNC pullout would mark a major shift in presidential and vice presidential debates. It could lead to campaigns directly engaging with eachother to set up debates or no debates at all, The Times reported.

McDaniel offered a list of proposals for the debate commission to consider to restore “credibility” with the GOP. The RNC seeks to have one presidential debate held before early voting begins, enact a code of conduct for the commission’s members and staff, and establish a criteria for selecting debate moderators and a code of conduct for the moderator during the debate. 

“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 wrote. “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.”

She added, “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.”

The suggested change — requiring future candidates to sign a pledge not to participate in the debates — will be voted on at the RNC’s meeting in Utah in February, per The Times.