NEWS & ANALYSIS

Backbone! RNC to Prohibit Candidates Seeking Party Nomination from Participating in Presidential Debates


The Republican National Committee is preparing to change its stance, requiring candidates seeking the party nomination to sign a pledge to not participate in any debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. 

Republican committee officials informed the debate commission about their plan in a Thursday letter, per the New York Times. If the change moves forward, it will be the first change in how presidential and vice-presidential debates have been conducted in over 30 years. 

The commission describes itself as non-partisan, but Republicans have argued for nearly a decade that its rules and regulations favor Democrats. 

The RNC will vote on the change at its winter meeting in Salt Lake City this February. 

If the change proceeds, it would likely change the debate approach to be similar to what happened prior to the commission’s existence, when the two parties had to negotiate directly and agree on terms. 

“So long as the C.P.D. appears intent on stonewalling the meaningful reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the Republican Party as a fair and nonpartisan actor, the R.N.C. will take every step to ensure that future Republican presidential nominees are given that opportunity elsewhere,” Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote.

She added that the Committee would start the process of amending its rules at the winter meeting “to prohibit future Republican nominees from participating in C.P.D.-sponsored debates.”