RNC to Allow Candidates to Participate in Unsanctioned Debates

RNC to Allow Candidates to Participate in Unsanctioned Debates
(L-R) Republican presidential candidates former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Vivek Ramaswamy participate in the fourth Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the University of Alabama Moody Music Hall in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Dec. 6, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Republican National Committee (RNC) voted on Dec. 8 to allow GOP presidential candidates to participate in unsanctioned debates.

Previously, the RNC’s pledge, which was signed by those who have been on the debate stages, prohibited the candidates from partaking in debates unsanctioned by the RNC.

This comes as CNN announced on Dec. 7 that it will host two Republican presidential primary debates next month in Iowa and New Hampshire—the first two GOP contests in 2024.

The debates will be on Jan. 10 in Iowa and on Jan. 21 in New Hampshire, ahead of the caucus and primary, respectively, in those states.

The Iowa Caucus is on Jan. 16, while the New Hampshire primary is on Jan. 23.

Moderators for the CNN debates have not been announced.

To qualify for the first CNN debate, which will be at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, candidates must, among numerous criteria, be at 10 percent in three separate Hawkeye State or national polls of GOP voters.

For the second debate, which will be at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, candidates must poll at 10 percent in three separate Granite State or national polls of GOP voters, in addition to meeting other requirements.

Given the requirements, only former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would qualify for these debates, while the other candidates still in the race—entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson—would not.

Mr. DeSantis announced on X, formerly Twitter, that he will at least be in the debate in the Hawkeye State.

“Looking forward to debating in Iowa!” he posted.

In addition to the polling criteria, other requirements include being a U.S. citizen, filing with the Federal Election Commission a statement of candidacy, and consent to the debate rules.

It’s unlikely that former President Donald Trump will participate in the CNN debates, given that he has opted out of all debates thus far. In addition, he’s been openly disdainful of the network, which he has called “fake news,” though he participated in June in a testy town hall hosted by CNN and moderated by anchor Kaitlan Collins.

And ABC News announced, also on Dec. 7, that it will host a debate in New Hampshire on Jan. 18, also at Saint Anselm College.

The network said the criteria to make the debate stage, moderators, and other information will be announced “at a later time.”

“ABC News is excited to host this Republican debate with our partners in the nation’s first primary state of New Hampshire,” said ABC News President Kim Godwin in a statement.

“Our powerhouse political team has been working hard on this debate to provide our audience with the opportunity to hear from the candidates at this decisive moment in the primary race.”

Ms. Haley’s campaign declined to comment in response to an Epoch Times inquiry on whether she will be participating in the CNN and ABC News debates. Mr. DeSantis’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether he will be in the CNN debate in New Hampshire.

However, Mr. DeSantis said he will take part in the ABC News debate.

“Look forward to debating in the Granite State next month!” he posted on X.

The RNC move and further debate announcements come shortly after the testy Dec. 6 debate in Alabama on NewsNation. Taking the stage were Ms. Haley, Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Ramaswamy, and Mr. Christie.

“We have held four successful debates across the country with the most conservative partners in the history of a Republican primary,” said the RNC’s Committee on Presidential Debates in a statement. “

“We have no RNC debates scheduled in January and any debates currently scheduled are not affiliated with the RNC,” they continued. “It is now time for Republican primary voters to decide who will be our next president and candidates are free to use any forum or format to communicate to voters as they see fit.”

However, the debates have resulted in decreasing ratings as the GOP frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, has not taken the stage in any of the debates.

The latest debate hosted by NewsNation set the record for the least-watched debate so far in the primary, even though it was the most-watched program in the fledging network’s history.

There were 1.59 million people who watched the debate on NewsNation, while 2.62 million tuned into the simulcast on the CW, the network’s sister station, according to Nielsen.

According to Nielsen, just over 12.8 million people tuned in to the first primary debate—hosted by Fox News on Aug. 23—with more than 2.8 million of them between the ages of 25 and 54, while the second one, on Sept. 27 on Fox Business Network, garnered 9.5 million viewers, 2 million of whom were in the 25-54 age range.

From The Epoch Times

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