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RNC's Priebus: We're Still in Control of the GOP Debates

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By    |   Monday, 02 Nov 2015 10:49 AM

Reince Priebus played spin doctor Monday as he insisted the Republican National Committee he chairs is still in control of the GOP presidential debates — despite a private huddle by representatives of the candidates to talk about changing the debate system.

"The truth is, we're involved, we're in control. We're setting the calendar," Priebus declared to George Stephanopoulos in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Priebus' take-charge bravado came after representatives for most of the presidential candidates met Sunday night to talk about changing the debate format after there was universal outrage over CNBC's Republican slugfest last week.

As GOP candidate Dr. Ben Carson told Newsmax TV's Steve Malzberg following the vilified debate, "We should be able to influence this process and what we would prefer to have is something where candidates actually have an opportunity to state maybe what their economic policy is for three, four, five minutes."

Carson called CNBC's forum "a 'gotcha' debate," not an introduction to the candidates and their policies. "The latter," he said, "would have been much more helpful."

Priebus said the candidates should have a larger say in the format of primary debates.
"I do agree with them they should be more involved in the formatting," Priebus said.

"What we're going to make sure we do is communicate with the candidates, listen to the candidates, and make sure that when there's unanimity among the candidates, we're going to fight for what the candidates want."

Candidates have raised concerns about loaded questions, bias from the moderators and the amount of time each has to speak. They have also complained about the pre-show green rooms.

Asked about the suggestion of Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz that all debate moderators should have to vote in a Republican primary, Priebus said:

"I do think it's true that in a Republican primary, people that care or give a rip about the Republican Party ought to be the people who are involved in the debate. At least care about the future of our party, I mean, I think that's a factor, George."

Carson's campaign manager Barry Bennett told ABC News that all the campaigns have agreed they need opening and closing statements and an equal number of questions to all candidates.

In addition, candidates are calling for approval of all graphics that list their biographical information.

The RNC has appointed RNC Chief Operating Officer Sean Cairncross to direct changes in the debate process.

"The ability to sanction or de-sanction a debate is with the RNC," Priebus said.

"And the candidates want that to be with the RNC because we have the leverage to make that happen."

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Reince Priebus played spin doctor Monday as he insisted the Republican National Committee he chairs is still in control of the GOP presidential debates - despite a private huddle by representatives of the candidates to talk about changing the debate system.
reince priebus, RNC, presidential, debates, GOP
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2015-49-02
Monday, 02 Nov 2015 10:49 AM
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