Preibus: RNC will control 2016 primary debate process

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said that the party would work to “take control of our nominating process” for the 2016 presidential election, setting rules for debate moderators and limiting the number of debates for candidates.

“I just think need to take control of our nominating process and I don’t think we did in 2012,” he said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday.

Speaking in California last week, Priebus referred to the 2012 presidential debate process as “a traveling circus of debates,” which he called “insanity in this party.”

On Tuesday, he reiterated that the large number of debates in 2011 and 2012 was his “biggest issue.”

“I think it’s not supportable by reasonable people,” he said.

Preibus also said they would seek to have moderators that “really are people who actually do care about the party, the process, the candidates.”

Some of the 2012 debate moderators drew intense criticism from Republicans for their questions. For instance, CNN’s John King was lambasted for asking former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about his marital issues with his ex-wife.

The chairman said there was no list of any kind, neither of people who the RNC wanted to have moderate a debate nor of people they would not allow to be moderators.

His plan, he said, was to “work with all of the potential media outlets, both traditional, not traditional, people you would think of immediately and maybe some folks that you wouldn’t think of, and coming up with some basic ground rules for how we want to operate and get as much agreement as possible before moving forward.”

Alternatively, he said, he might “have a committee set up at the RNC to decide the frequency of the debates, the partners, the field of moderators that might be workable for each of the debates and negotiate dates, partners, and negotiate the process and who might be a moderator and who wouldn’t be a moderator.”

He said he recognized that there “has to be a level of cooperation as well,” on the RNC’s part because “it’s not going to work if there’s some sort of rule of, ‘here are the dictates and this is what you have to live by.’ I realize that’s not exactly the most workable way to move forward.”

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