Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is not happy about the Republican National Committee’s decision to reduce the number of debates in the 2016 presidential primary by nearly half, arguing that the move is intended to diminish the most conservative candidates, who typically lack the financial resources and name recognition of establishment types.
"A lot of the folks who are complaining about the process are really complaining that they don’t want somebody who is too conservative, who really wants to repeal Obamacare and all the taxes in it, who really wants to get rid of Common Core to win this nomination," Jindal said Monday, speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, The Wall Street Journal
"I’m glad it’s not the donors and the political class, I’m glad it’s the voters who get to decide."
Last month, the RNC announced it had approved nine presidential primary debates
— to be held between August 2015 and March 1, 2016 — with three more in the works. In 2012, some 20 debates were held during the primary.
Seeking "a larger conservative media presence," the Journal reports that four of the 12 debates will be hosted by Fox News or Fox Business. A conservative media outlet will host the fifth debate, and liberal MSNBC will not host any debates.
The television networks will be tasked with deciding the criteria for eligible candidates, according to the RNC, which has said any candidate who participates in a debate not sanctioned by the RNC will not be permitted to take part in other RNC debates.
With perhaps as many as two dozen potential candidates, Jindal said there are ways around that stipulation.
"I understand why they’re trying to do that," he said, according to Yahoo News
. "The reality is, you’re not going to stop, in a free society — nor should you — you’re not going to stop people … If the candidates want to do it, there are going to be forums, debates, whatever they call themselves.
"I think it’s almost a futile effort because the reality is … as long as there are that many candidates, there are going to be a number of different forums … People might come up with creative names. They might call them forums. They might call them discussions. They might call them whatever."
He understands, he said, the GOP’s belief that the primary got too ugly in 2012, fueled in part by the vast number of debates, and ultimately hurt nominee Mitt Romney in the general election.
"I know there is a lot of concern, especially in this town among Republican Party leaders," Jindal said. "There’s this ideal of theirs, this idealistic belief, that if we could just have fewer debates, if we could have a gentler, kinder nominating process, that would be good for the party and good for the nominee. Well you know what? Democracy is messy.
"And the donors, the political leaders, the establishment, the pundits, they don’t get to pick our nominee."
Further, Jindal said, Republican voters cannot and will not be manipulated by the process.
"I think if there is an attempt to try to clear the field or try to rig it for somebody or just try to advantage somebody that’s got more name ID or more money, I think the voters will respond to that," he said.
"I think Republican voters don’t want to be told who to vote for. They want to decide for themselves."
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