The Republican National Committee announced on Thursday that GOP candidates will no longer be required to participate in presidential debates hosted by the “partisan” Commission on Presidential Debates due to the commission’s refusal to “provide a fair and impartial forum.”
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that “the RNC has a duty to ensure that its future presidential nominees have the opportunity to debate their opponents on a level playing field” and that as long as the CPD refuses to fix the overtly partisan issues that have plagued the debates for years, Republicans plan to no longer participate.
The RNC has spent months urging the CPD to adopt a list of reforms meant to address the problems that riddled the 2020 presidential debates but so far, the commission has ignored the requests for board term limits, limited public commentary on candidates by CPD staff, and a penalization and disqualification process for moderators who “have apparent conflicts of interest due to personal, professional, or partisan factors.”
“We are especially frustrated with the CPD’s refusal to enact reforms aimed at ensuring nonpartisanship by claiming that doing so would somehow render the organization more partisan,” McDaniel noted.
The chairwoman previously released a statement in June demanding the commission fix its problems or lose support from the GOP.
“The Republican Party needs assurances that the CPD will make meaningful reforms to the debate process by working with stakeholders to restore the faith and legitimacy it has lost. If not, as RNC Chairman, I will have no choice but to advise future Republican candidates against participating in CPD-hosted debates,” she said in a statement at the time.
The CPD has a history of allowing left-wing journalists with a tendency to interrupt Republican candidates as moderators. It also seems to be hellbent on painting GOP candidates in a poor light, as Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway noted in her book “Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections.”
In 2020, the commission used COVID-19 as an excuse to delay the first presidential debate until after mail-in balloting in some states began. This rightfully frustrated then-President Donald Trump and his team who also tried to reason with the CPD and even threatened to pull out of the live-streamed spectacle unless changes were made.
“The commission flatly refused, saying that the dates for the debates were well known and that voters could just wait to send their ballots. To Trump’s request that the debate be moderated by someone from a list of journalists less liberal than the type usually asked to host debates, the commission said it would exercise ‘great care, as always, to ensure that the selected moderators are qualified and fair.’ In other words, the commission politely refused Trump’s request,” Hemingway wrote.
The CPD’s noncompliance left Americans’ questions and concerns about the 2020 candidates in the hands of Fox News’s Chris Wallace, who asked slanted questions favoring Biden, and Steve Scully, who incompetently tweeted a private conversation he had with a notable anti-Trumper and then falsely claimed he was hacked.
These partisan performances by moderators earned the wrath of the public and former politicians who noted the commission’s decline in recent years.
“The Commission on Presidential Debates is supposedly bipartisan w/ an equal number of Rs and Ds. I know all of the Republicans and most are friends of mine. I am concerned that none of them support @realDonaldTrump. A biased Debate Commission is unfair,” former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas tweeted.
“The commission represents precisely the values and attitudes which were repudiated in the election of President Trump. Even the Republicans on the supposedly non-partisan commission board are pre-Trump members of the old order,” Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich wrote.