Republican National Committee pulls out of presidential debate commission

New York, New York - The Republican National Committee (RNC) withdrew from the bipartisan US presidential debate commission on Thursday, putting in doubt the future of closely watched clashes between major party candidates in 2024 and beyond.

Disgraced ex-president Donald Trump and current president Joe Biden debating at the 2020 presidential debates.
Disgraced ex-president Donald Trump and current president Joe Biden debating at the 2020 presidential debates.  © REUTERS

The RNC unanimously voted to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), the impartial non-profit group that has organized the debates since 1987.

"The Commission on Presidential Debates is biased and has refused to enact simple and common sense reforms to help ensure fair debates," said Ronna McDaniel, the RNC’s chairperson.

McDaniel claimed the commission has refused to consider moving the debates to before early voting starts, and said it selects moderators that are slanted against Republican candidates.

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The group will demand that Republican presidential candidates pledge to only participate in debates going forward that are GOP approved.

The commission has been under fire from Republicans since the 2020 debates, which then-president Donald Trump slammed as biased against him.

In his first debate against then-candidate Joe Biden, Trump failed to disclose a positive Covid test from three days earlier and refused to submit to mandatory testing on the day of the debate. Appearing angry and unwell, Trump ignored the debate rules, repeatedly interrupted Biden, and constantly sniped at Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

He was diagnosed with Covid-19 a couple of days later, raising the likelihood that he was infectious during the debate.

Trump withdrew from the second debate after the commission moved to hold it virtually instead of in-person as he preferred.

The CPD did not immediately comment on the decision, but said earlier it remained committed to creating a non-partisan platform to help the American people decide between the candidates. The non-profit commission is run by members of both parties and was founded in 1987 to ensure a fair process for organizing debates between the main White House contenders.

"The CPD's plans for 2024 will be based on fairness, neutrality and a firm commitment to help the American public learn about the candidates and the issues," the statement said.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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