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Continuing a feud that percolated during the 2020 presidential election, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent a letter Tuesday night to the co-chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates, saying that it would advise Republican candidates to avoid participating in future debates unless the Commission “adopts significant reforms.”
“The CPD’s repeated missteps and the partisan actions of its board members make clear that the organization no longer provides the fair and impartial forum for presidential debates which the law requires and the American people deserve,” McDaniel wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
After the first debate last year, in which President Trump constantly spoke over Joe Biden, and both men largely ignored time limits, the CPD said it would tweak the format for future debates to give them “additional structure.”
Among the reforms demanded by the RNC are hosting the first debate before early voting begins in any state, and that the Commission cannot change the format at the last minute, as it tried to do last year when it tried to switch the Oct. 15 debate to a remote format. The RNC also asked for term limits and a code of conduct for boardmembers.
The second debate, which was moved to a remote format following Trump’s hospitalization with COVID-19, was ultimately canceled.
McDaniel also called for “a transparent code of conduct” for moderators, disqualifying potential moderators “who have an appearance of bias.”
To that end, the letter also called out C-SPAN moderator Steve Scully for being asked to moderate a debate despite working as an intern for Joe Biden, and board members of the Commission, some of whom had “gone on record making disparaging comments about President Trump.”
The letter did have some praise in it, however … for President Trump, noting that “thanks to his background in television,” he realized the plexiglass shields the CPD installed due to COVID-19 protocols would have “caused a surprising and awkward distraction” for the candidates when the cameras rolled and they saw their reflections in the glass.
The RNC gave the CPD until July 31 to respond, and added that if it did not agree to the reforms, it will “look for other options for its candidates to debate the issues before the American people in a neutral and nonpartisan forum.”
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