A tradition at risk: Demanding changes in CPD rules, Republicans threaten to boycott US presidential debates

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Jan 14, 2022, 02:29 PM(IST)

Presidential debates Photograph:( AFP )

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RNC chair Ronna McDaniel wrote the CPD on Thursday, accusing it of stonewalling the meaningful reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the Republican Party as a fair and nonpartisan actor.

A potential threat exists to the time-honoured tradition of US presidential debates.

Republican National Committee (RNC) has threatened to boycott debates unless the organisation that organises them changes its rules.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has sponsored US presidential and vice-presidential debates for the past three decades.

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For nearly a decade, Republicans have complained that its processes favour the Democrats. RNC chair Ronna McDaniel wrote the CPD on Thursday, accusing it of "stonewalling the meaningful reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the Republican Party as a fair and nonpartisan actor."

Absent the reforms, "the RNC will take every step to ensure that future Republican presidential nominees are given that opportunity (to debate) elsewhere," McDaniel said.

"Accordingly, the RNC will initiate the process of amending the Rules of the Republican Party at our upcoming Winter Meeting to prohibit future Republican nominees from participating in CPD-sponsored debates," she said.

In her letter to the CPD, McDaniel complained that the first debate in 2020 between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden took place after early voting had already begun. 

After some states changed their election rules due to the Coronavirus pandemic and expanded both absentee and early voting in 2020, more than 1 million ballots were cast before the first presidential debate on September 29. 

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She asserts that the commission made "unilateral changes to previously agreed-upon debate formats and conditions" and selected a moderator "who had once worked for the Democrat nominee."

Additionally, she said a majority of the board members had been disparaging Trump, the Republican nominee.

In a statement to The New York Times, the CPD said that the organisation "deals directly with candidates for President and Vice President who qualify for participation."

"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."

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Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the RNC's decision at the daily press briefing.

Psaki said the president believes the debates "play a role in allowing the American people to hear from the candidates and where they stand."

"So I think it's a question best posed to the RNC and what they're so afraid of," she said.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has been sponsoring the US presidential debates since the 1988 election.

(With inputs from agencies)

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