CNBC Responds to Debate Backlash: Candidates "Should Be Able to Answer Tough Questions"

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Donald Trump at the CNBC presidential debate

Donald Trump and the other candidates lambasted moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood for their choice of questions and more.

CNBC is returning fire after its moderators took considerable criticism from the candidates at Wednesday night’s Republican debate.

“People who want to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions," said CNBC executives in a statement Thursday.

The statement comes in response to backlash from candidates like Donald Trump, who lambasted moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood for asking “nasty and ridiculous questions.” (Trump had been asked if he actually was running a "comic book version of a presidential campaign.")

Marco Rubio accused the mainstream media of being in the tank for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, calling the media the “ultimate Super PAC.” Ted Cruz chided the moderators for attempting to turn the debate into a "cage match."

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus criticized the network in a series of tweets on Wednesday and also released a harshly worded statement.

"While I was proud of our candidates and the way they handled tonight’s debate, the performance by the CNBC moderators was extremely disappointing and did a disservice to their network, our candidates and voters," said Priebus in a statement, adding that the network "should be ashamed of how this debate was handled."

And the candidates persisted in their criticism on Thursday morning. Ben Carson, the leader in a New York Times-CBS News poll released last week, advocated for a “change of format.”

"Debates are supposed to be to get to know the candidates, what is behind them," he said during a press conference in Colorado. “What it has turned into is a 'gotcha.' "

The next GOP debate is scheduled for Nov. 10 on Fox Business Network with lead moderators Maria Bartiromo and Neil Cavuto.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, appearing on CNN’s New Day, told anchor Alisyn Camerota: "I'm not going to allow them to ask stupid questions."