The Republican Party held a vote Thursday to officially mandate all of their presidential candidates agree that they'll only appear at RNC-sanctioned primary and general election debates, the Wall Street Journal reported.
There has been an ongoing battle between the Commission on Presidential Debates and the Republican Party because former President Donald Trump didn't like the moderators in previous events. Trump was angered in 2020 by Fox host Chris Wallace, who asked difficult questions and tried to shut down Trump's rambling over time. Trump became enraged after it was proposed that the moderator would have a "mute" button for Trump once he went over time and they'd cut his microphone.
The format, moderators and other conditions are decided ahead of time by an independent panel of both Democrats and Republicans that has crafted the specifics for the past 35 years.
“Any presidential primary candidate who does not agree in writing, or who participates in any debate that is not a sanctioned debate, shall not be eligible to participate in any further sanctioned debates," says the resolution passed by the Republican Party.
They said that they will create a "working group" that will "sanction" debates based on the demands of the presidential candidates. Their greatest challenge is that all of the Republican candidates could refuse to sign the agreement and do whatever they want, collectively ignoring the party's control over their debate agreements.
The debate committee decides who is eligible to participate in the official debates, not the party. It would simply mean that candidates would be barred from the debates set up by the RNC. If no Republican candidate agrees to it, it would mean. no candidate would appear, leading to a debate flop for the Republican Party.
The Wall Street Journal makes a similar point, saying "it remains unknown just how much enforcement strength the party will have because a decision on participation in the debates will ultimately be up to the nominee. Rules can also be changed by the party at almost any time and a future nominee would have significant sway."
There's also the added problem that if the RNC refuses to sanction main debates by the Presidential Debate Commission, it could give Democrats hours of free air time.
Some media outlets and organizations get around the "debate" mandates and requirements by calling their events "candidate town halls" or "candidate forums." Republican candidates could use that as another way to skirt the new GOP rule.
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