RNC Chair Suspends Presidential Debate Partnership With NBC

The news arrives on the heels of CNBC’s widely-criticized debate on Wednesday.

Reince Priebus
AP Photo/Alonzo Adams
Caroline Nyce
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Caroline Nyce
Oct. 30, 2015, 1:16 p.m.

The Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee is strik­ing back.

In a let­ter re­leased Fri­day af­ter­noon, RNC chair Re­ince Priebus said that the RNC is sus­pend­ing its pres­id­en­tial de­bate part­ner­ship with NBC “pending fur­ther dis­cus­sion between the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee (RNC) and our pres­id­en­tial cam­paigns.” Priebus cited CN­BC’s hand­ling of Wed­nes­day’s de­bate as the reas­on for the an­nounce­ment, call­ing ques­tions “in­ac­cur­ate or down­right of­fens­ive.

“While de­bates are meant to in­clude tough ques­tions and con­trast can­did­ates’ vis­ions and policies for the fu­ture of Amer­ica, CN­BC’s mod­er­at­ors en­gaged in a series of ‘gotcha’ ques­tions, petty and mean-spir­ited in tone, and de­signed to em­bar­rass our can­did­ates,” the RNC chair­man wrote.

The an­nounce­ment fol­lows wide­spread cri­ti­cism of CN­BC’s host­ing of the prime-time de­bate on Wed­nes­day, in­clud­ing cri­ti­cism from Ted Cruz dur­ing the de­bate it­self. In his let­ter on Fri­day, Priebus was quick to de­fer to the cam­paigns, say­ing: “We simply can­not con­tin­ue with NBC without full con­sulta­tion with our cam­paigns.”

The RNC is sched­uled to hold a de­bate on Feb. 26, 2016 in col­lab­or­a­tion with NBC, Telemundo, and Na­tion­al Re­view at the Uni­versity of Hou­s­ton. Priebus wrote that the RNC still plans to have a de­bate that night “and will en­sure that Na­tion­al Re­view re­mains part of it.”

NBC re­ac­ted to the news in a state­ment Fri­day af­ter­noon: “This is a dis­ap­point­ing de­vel­op­ment,” the state­ment reads. “However, along with our de­bate broad­cast part­ners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to re­solve this mat­ter with the Re­pub­lic­an Party.”

In a state­ment, Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign said it sup­ports the RNC’s de­cision and “look[s] for­ward to pur­su­ing al­tern­at­ives along with the RNC to en­sure can­did­ates are giv­en ample op­por­tun­ity to out­line their vis­ion for the fu­ture of our coun­try.”

“We hope net­works and fu­ture mod­er­at­ors real­ize that what happened in Col­or­ado should nev­er have oc­curred,” Ser­gio Gor, a spokes­man for Sen. Rand Paul, told Na­tion­al Journ­al in an email.

Alice Stew­art, a spokes­wo­man for Mike Hucka­bee’s cam­paign, noted that the cam­paigns have been hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions amongst them­selves since de­bate night about how to “make these de­bates more fair and sub­stant­ive.” Politico re­por­ted Thursday that the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial cam­paigns plan to meet Sunday night in Wash­ing­ton D.C.—without any­one from the RNC present—to dis­cuss how de­bates can be im­proved.

On Wed­nes­day, Cruz stopped mid-de­bate to com­plain about the qual­ity of the ques­tions: “The ques­tions asked in this de­bate il­lus­trate why the Amer­ic­an people don’t trust the me­dia,” Cruz said.

The full text of Priebus’s let­ter, which is ad­dressed to NBC News Chair­man An­drew Lack, is pos­ted on the RNC web­site.

This story has been up­dated. 

What We're Following See More »
Heller, Paul Won’t Vote on Motion to Proceed
4 minutes ago
CBO Says 22 Million More Would Be UNinsured
1 hours ago

The Senate bill "would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026, a figure that is only slightly lower than the 23 million more uninsured that the House version would create. Next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law...The legislation would decrease federal deficits by a total of $321 billion over a decade."

SCOTUS Delivers a Victory for Gay Couples
2 hours ago

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of same-sex couples who complained that an Arkansas birth certificate law discriminated against them, reversing a state court’s ruling that married lesbian couples must get a court order to have both spouses listed on their children’s birth certificates."

Revised Senate Bill Would Add Penalty for Going Uninsured
3 hours ago
58 House Republicans Ask Ginsburg to Recuse on Travel Ban
4 hours ago

The letter reads in part, "There is no doubt that your impartiality can be reasonably questioned; indeed, it would be unreasonable not to question your impartiality. Failure to recuse yourself from any such case would violate the law and undermine the credibility of the Supreme Court of the United States.” Ginsburg said last year, "He is a faker. He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.