Ronna McDaniel: RNC will advise presidential candidates to skip debates unless reforms made

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The Republican National Committee (RNC) is taking aim at the organization that for more than three decades has hosted and produced the presidential and vice presidential general election debates, warning that it may advise the next GOP presidential nominee to skip the debates unless significant changes are made.

The letter by RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel to the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) appears to be the latest example of the GOP taking issue with the commission and how it operates. Then-President Trump and his reelection campaign tangled multiple times with the commission last summer and autumn over the format and moderators of the general election debates, with one of the three showdowns between Trump and now-President Biden being canceled.

“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 charged in her letter.

“Unless the CPD adopts significant reforms to ensure that it better fulfills this important, nonpartisan function, the RNC will have no choice but to advise its future nominees against participating in CPD-hosted debates,” the chair warned. 

President Trump, center, speaks as Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, right, listens during the first U.S. presidential debate hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

McDaniel added that it’s the RNC’s “sincere hope…that the CPD accepts this criticism and works to correct its mistakes.” But she added if not, “the RNC will look for other options for its candidates to debate the issues before the American people in a neutral and nonpartisan forum.”

And McDaniel, in a statement to Fox News, spotlighted some of the RNC’s grievances with the commission during the 2020 cycle. Among them were “the CPD failing in 2020 to host a single debate before the start of early voting, making unilateral changes without informing the candidates, and allowing Members of its Board of Directors to make biased and partisan statements against the Republican nominee.”

The chair said the GOP “needs assurances that the CPD will make meaningful reforms to the debate process by working with stakeholders to restore the faith and legitimacy it has lost.”

McDaniel asked the commission to respond to her requests by the end of July.

Fox News reached out to the CPD for comment on the RNC letter but did not receive a response at the time this story was published.

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