In case you missed it, the Republican National Committee voted last week to exercise control over the process of sanctioning Republican primary debates, choosing moderators, and linting the number of events in 2016. A move intended to cut down on the 20+ debates we witnessed in 2012, the decision has now drawn criticism from former Speaker of the House and former 2012 Republican candidate for President, Newt Gingrich.
Report from the Wall Street Journal:
Nobody capitalized on the endless 2012 Republican presidential debates more than Newt Gingrich, and he’s not happy about the plan to halve the number of such forums for 2016.
“I am very doubtful about any significant limitations on the number of debates and I disagree totally with the absurd idea that the debates are harmful,” Mr. Gingrich said Friday. “The debates are only harmful if you nominate somebody who can’t debate.”
Mr. Gingrich spoke as the Republican National Committee, on a 152-7 vote at its quarterly meeting in Memphis, approved rules to centralize control over the 2016 presidential primary debates to an internal committee that will determine the schedule, media partners and moderators.
Limiting the number of debates from 20 in 2012 to fewer than 10 in 2016, as RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said is the plan, Mr. Gingrich said, will serve to the benefit of well-funded candidates at the expense of those powered by grass-roots supporters.
“A lot of Republican rich people’s complaints are silly,” Mr. Gingrich said. “I would be very concerned if they try to strangle the ability of less-financed candidates to have some voice.”
And Mr. Gingrich said the RNC is putting itself at risk of splitting the party if candidates who consider themselves outside the Republican mainstream elect to appear at unsanctioned debates.
“For the RNC to put itself to have a Washington-centric organization trying to bully candidates for president is very dangerous and I hope that they handle this very carefully because otherwise they create a sense of which insiders can manipulate the system,” he said. “If you get a couple candidates who want to blow it apart, they will. They’ll get more media trying to hold their own debates.”
He continued: “If the establishment says, ‘We’ll teach you,’ the establishment could end up with a conservative third-party candidate. I think they grossly underestimate that problem.”
As mentioned in the article, Newt Gingrich used the numerous debates to his advantage coming out strong and often garnering applause by attacking the media.
However, does the former Speaker have a point about shutting out less-funded candidates from national screen time? Who stands the most to gain from this decision to limit the number of debates and who stands to win?