GOP presidential campaigns to meet to discuss changing debate format after recent one
NEW YORK — Several Republican presidential campaigns are planning to hold a meeting in Washington, D.C., Sunday to discuss plans for wresting more control of the debates from the Republican National Committee, CNN has confirmed.
The meeting, first reported by Politico, comes in the wake of Wednesday’s night’s CNBC primary debate, which has been widely criticized by the candidates. The RNC has not been invited to the meeting, reflecting the campaigns’ frustrations with the committee’s handling of the debate process.
Sources with knowledge of the meeting said the plan came about after a discussion between representatives from the Ben Carson and Bobby Jindal campaigns, who then brought in aides to Donald Trump and Lindsay Graham.
As of Thursday night, representatives from the Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum campaigns are also expected to attend the meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Jeb Bush and Rand Paul’s campaigns are tentative, while a spokesperson for Chris Christie confirmed that their team was not part of the discussions.
The campaigns’ goal: Come up with a way to gain more control over a debate process that they see as unruly and ill-fitted to the interests of the Republican candidates.
Earlier on Thursday, Carson had told reporters that he would be demanding a new debate format and was reaching out to the other Republican candidates in an attempt to force changes in the next debate.
”We need a change of format,” Carson said during a press conference in Lakewood, Colorado. “Debates are supposed to be to get to know the candidates, what is behind them. What it has turned into is a gotcha.”
Wednesday night’s two-hour long debate — moderated by CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla, John Harwood and Becky Quick — was widely panned by Republican candidates and the RNC, all of whom complained about biased and shallow questions.
During the debate, Senator Cruz accused the moderators of trying to instigate a cage match. Trump slammed the “ridiculous questions,” and Christie grew visibly irate at the moderators’ decision to discuss fantasy football instead of other issues.
“Wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and al-Qaeda attacking us and we’re talking about fantasy football?” Christie shouted. “Can we stop?”