Campaigns plotting to freeze RNC out of debate plans

Another debate, another biased moderating panel, another round of questions designed to get the candidates at each other's throats has driven most of the campaigns to meet and talk about ways to keep the Republican National Committee from setting the parameters for debates.

Representatives from at least six of the GOP presidential campaigns will meet on Sunday to plot against the RNC's incompetent, blundering management of the debates.


Republican presidential campaigns are planning to gather in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening to plot how to alter their party’s messy debate process — and how to remove power from the hands of the Republican National Committee.

Not invited to the meeting: Anyone from the RNC, which many candidates have openly criticized in the hours since Wednesday’s CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado — a chaotic, disorganized affair that was widely panned by political observers.

On Thursday, many of the campaigns told POLITICO that the RNC, which has taken a greater role in the 2016 debate process than in previous election cycles, had failed to take their concerns into account. It was time, top aides to at least half a dozen of the candidates agreed, to begin discussing among themselves how the next debates should be structured and not leave it up to the RNC and television networks.

The gathering is being organized by advisers to the campaigns of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham, according to multiple sources involved in the planning. Others who are expected to attend, organizers say, are representatives for Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum. The planners are also reaching out to other Republican candidates.

Spokespersons for the RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I think the campaigns have a number of concerns and they have a right to talk about that amongst themselves,” said Christian Ferry, Graham’s campaign manager. The objective, Ferry said, was to “find out what works best for us as a group.”

Figuring that out could be contentious as each campaign has a number of different complaints about the process. Some — such as Bush and Paul — have griped about unequal speaking time. Others have complained bitterly about how polling is used to determine who qualifies for the prime-time and undercard debates. Some have insisted on giving opening and closing statements, despite the networks' desire to have the candidates spend as much time as possible clashing with each other on stage.

Reince Priebus, the RNC chair, has showcased Republican candidates incompetently.  The debates are supposed to show the candidates in the best light possible.  Instead, he has bent to every demand by the media in determining the debate format, moderators, and time slot.  The results have been predictable.

If you were to get nine or ten GOP presidential candidates in a TV studio; hire a responsible, unbiased moderator; and put on a debate, the cable nets would be forced to cover the event anyway.  When even CNBC can get 14 million people to tune in, guess who has the upper hand in debate preparation.  Priebus has acted like a supplicant, bending the knee and begging for scraps when the audience numbers would give him the ability to dictate to the networks how the event will be staged.

As chairman of the RNC, Priebus has tried to modernized the creaky fundraising apparatus of the RNC, but he is still light-years behind the Democrats.  Perhaps it's time to bring someone in who can adapt the GOP's fundraising efforts to the modern age of social media. 

And he should be sidelined from participating in any negotiations with a TV network about debates.

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