The Republican National Committee (RNC) voted unanimously on Thursday to banparticipate in debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), the non-partisan body that has organized general election debates since 1988.
“The Commission on Presidential Debates is biased and has refused to enact simple, common-sense reforms to help ensure fair debates, including holding debates before voting begins and selecting moderators who have never worked for candidates on the debate stage,” RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said. statement.
The amendment to the committee’s rules, which members approved at the party’s spring meeting in Memphis, requires potential candidates to agree in writing to participate only in RNC-sanctioned debates or face expulsion from the party. future debates.
“All presidential primary candidates must also agree in writing to appear only in sanctioned primary and general election debates,” the amendment reads. “Any presidential primary candidate who does not agree in writing or participates in a debate that is not a sanctioned debate will not be eligible to participate in any further sanctioned debates.”
The amendment includes language regarding a temporary committee on presidential debates that would approve and sanction the RNC’s debates.
Republicansat the CPD following the 2020 presidential debates, when the first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden took place after early voting had already begun in some states. The committee also called on the commission to reform how it selects moderators, citing a perceived bias with those chosen to oversee the 2020 debates.
Suggested changes included adopting term limits for its board, holding the first debate before early voting, creating a code of conduct to prevent CPD officials from engaging in partisan activity, the establishment of transparent criteria for the selection of moderators and the creation of a code of conduct for moderators.
“We’re going to find new and better platforms for debate to ensure future candidates don’t have to go through the biased CPD in order to make their case to the American people,” McDaniel said Thursday.
Mike McCurry, former CPD co-chair and Clinton White House press secretary, said the RNC’s motion “is not a surprise” and the choice of whether or not to participate in a debate is still up to the candidate.
“I’m sure it’s driven by Trump’s agenda, but ultimately when we get to 2024, presidential candidates will participate in the debates if they see it’s important and the American people expects them to. ,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if the RNC is there or the DNC is there. I guess most presidential candidates will say, ‘I have to be in the presidential debates because that’s where a lot of people pay attention.’
In a January statement, Democratic National Committee Chairman Jamie Harrison said “regardless of the RNC’s anger, voters can count on President Biden and Vice President Harris to be proud of their results.”
At their meeting this week, the RNC also gave its venue selection committee the green light to choose cities for the 2024 and 2028 conventions. The committee passed an amendment that says convention venues can be recommended as early as seven years before the congress.
“Today marks a historic step in the convention process, putting our party and our candidates in a stronger position for decades to come,” McDaniel said.
Fin Gomez contributed reporting.