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RNC's Sean Spicer: GOP Needs Bigger Role in Primary Debates

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Friday, 09 May 2014 07:07 PM

The Republican National Committee voted Friday to streamline and initiate changes in its primary debates to allow more conservative journalists to participate in the questioning, RNC communications director Sean Spicer says.

"The party is actually going to have a greater say in our Republican primary debates. For too long it has been the media who has decided when we're going to debate, who is going to be in the debate, what questions we're going ask, what subjects are going to be covered," Spicer told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"The party has in interest in … trying to get some grass-roots conservative voices as part of the process because frankly, as we all know, the liberal media does not have the interest of the party at hand."

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The changes will not change the caliber of questions that are asked and, in fact, they may even be more challenging, Spicer said.

"This has nothing to do with tough questions … The conservative media is a heck of a lot tougher than the mainstream media," he said.

"Their focus is on the issues that matter to conservatives and grass-roots activists, as opposed to the left-wing liberals out there … We need to get people from Newsmax, The Daily Caller, the Washington Examiner, Breitbart …

"Legitimate conservative journalists need to have a voice in questioning the Republican candidates for the nomination."

The cycle of debates will also be altered, according to the new rules.

"[In] presidential debates over the last two cycles, we've had 20 and 23 debates, respectively, and again some of them on consecutive nights, so you had a debate in Iowa on one day and a debate in New Hampshire," Spicer said.

"That's not smart, it's not good for the resources of the campaign, and it's not a good use of the campaign time. So what we're going to do is look at a calendar that has roughly 10 or less debates … You go back to Reagan, and there were six."

Spicer said the desire of the Democrats to forget about Benghazi shows a marked disrespect for the four Americans who died in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.

"There's a mentality that says … let's just move on, like there's some kind of statute of limitations on how long we're supposed to care about what happened," Spicer said.

"I find that extremely insensitive and frankly am not amazed that the mainstream media kind of just blew it off like, oh, OK, who cares? … [It] really says a lot about the moral decay of this country that we sort of say, it doesn't matter anymore …

"These men and women who go over and serve our country in embassies and consulates, in the military, in the foreign service, as contractors, are all people that care and love this country and when we don't care about their safety and their mission, that really is a sad day for this country."

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