GOP Candidates Have Had Enough of the RNC

Associated Press
Associated Press

Dr. Ben Carson’s presidential campaign is fed up with a “messy debate process” put together by Reince Priebus’ seemingly incompetent Republican National Committee. So several, if not all, “Republican presidential campaigns are planning to gather in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening to plot how to alter” the debate process going forward by doing an end run around the RNC, Politico reports.

RNC Chair Reince Priebus took scathing criticism from all sides after Wednesday’s debate on CNBC. The next day, popular conservative radio host Mark Levin called for Priebus to be fired.

One of the group’s key goals is to “remove power from the hands of the Republican National Committee,” basically leaving them out of the process completely.

Not invited to the meeting: Anyone from the RNC, which many candidates have openly criticized in the hours since Wednesday’s CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado — a chaotic, disorganized affair that was widely panned by political observers.

Bottom-line: while the RNC involved itself more than ever in debates this cycle, the candidates think it’s been yet one more GOP establishment failure.

On Thursday, many of the campaigns told POLITICO that the RNC, which has taken a greater role in the 2016 debate process than in previous election cycles, had failed to take their concerns into account. It was time, top aides to at least half a dozen of the candidates agreed, to begin discussing among themselves how the next debates should be structured and not leave it up to the RNC and television networks.

The gathering is being organized by advisers to the campaigns of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham, according to multiple sources involved in the planning. Others who are expected to attend, organizers say, are representatives for Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum. The planners are also reaching out to other Republican candidates.

Spokespersons for the RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Several campaigns have a number of issues they hope to explore and address by going around the RNC. More here via Politico.

“Our continuous complaint is candidate exclusion and the delusional debate polling criteria. It’s unacceptable,” said Gail Gitcho, a Jindal spokeswoman. “Maybe this meeting will change that, maybe it won’t. But we aren’t going to shut up about it.”

Graham’s campaign has argued that there should be two debates — with two groups of seven or eight candidates selected randomly.

Carson said on Thursday that he had asked his staff to contact other campaigns to propose format changes, without sharing specifically what he thinks those changes should be.

“It’s not about me and gotcha questions. It’s about the American people and whether they have the right to hear what we think,” Carson said before an event at Colorado Christian University. “The whole format was just craziness … You got to be really bad for the whole crowd to boo you.”


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