Members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) are frustrated with the current direction of their GOP primary debates, admitting that without former President Donald Trump the events may not be worth it, according to Politico.
The frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Trump has skipped the first two presidential debates, a decision that has drawn criticism from rival candidates. After the first two debates were widely panned, some within the RNC think they need the former president on the stage to make the forums worth it. (RELATED: Second GOP Primary Debate Drew Historically Low Ratings Without Trump)
“I think the only way you salvage it is if you get the frontrunner there,” Tyler Bowyer, a national committeeman from Arizona, told Politico. “Plan a debate where you get the frontrunner to agree to it.”
The first GOP presidential debate, sponsored by the conservative youth organization Young America’s Foundation (YAF), was aired exclusively on Fox News, Fox Business and Rumble. The debate was moderated by Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The second debate was aired by the exact same networks, in addition to Spanish-language network Univision. The moderators included Univision anchor Ilia Calderón, Fox Business host Stuart Varney and Fox News host Dana Perino.
That debate fell flat, with many prominent conservative media figures criticizing the moderators for asking poor questions while candidates bickered and talked over one another. The RNC previously promised in 2022 to use debates to “raise conservative media up” and incorporate other outlets, but after the first two debates, conservative media companies outside of the mainstream media told the Daily Caller that they are feeling snubbed by the committee.
“You can’t put your head in the sand and pretend these debates are going to result in someone other than Donald Trump getting the nomination,” Patti Lyman, the RNC’s national committeewoman from Virginia, told Politico, adding that the debates were “embarrassing” and “reflected very poorly on our party.”
Despite some members pushing for Trump to take the debate stage, top officials are reportedly not attempting to get the front runner on the debate stage, a person with knowledge of the committee’s operations told Politico. That reportedly includes RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and chairman for the RNC’s Temporary Committee on Presidential Debates David Bossie.
Trump himself doesn’t think the debates should go on; the former president told the Daily Caller that the RNC “has to stop the debates” because they are “bad for the Republican party.” Trump and his advisors have additionally urged the RNC to “refocus its manpower and money” on election integrity efforts rather than the debates, Politico reported.
An RNC spokesperson told Politico that the committee does not spend money on the debates and that such an argument is “flawed and not real.”
“It would be nice to see that they were much more orderly,” Steve Scheffler, a national committeeman from Iowa, told Politico. “I don’t know what the solution is. Certainly there need to be some improvements.”