The Republican National Committee (RNC) has been working feverishly since 2012 to reign in the number and frequency of televised primary debates. If you were a reader of this site in 2012, you’ll recall the lengthy list of debates and forums witnessed in the last cycle.
The Republican National Committee is taking a step Wednesday to fix this problem. At the RNC’s spring meeting, it will announce the formation of a standing committee on debates. The committee will select moderators, evaluate rules, and determine the number of debates. The total number is likely to be half of the previous cycle, and the committee will likely agree to remove delegates from any candidate who participates in a debate outside the party structure. The move will be a test of whether order can be restored to a primary process that gets more unpredictable every election, and whether grass-roots activists will tolerate the top-down meddling.
Up to this point, the debates have largely been organized and produced by cable and broadcast networks in cooperation with the candidates and state-level Republican Party organizations. According to the new guidelines, the RNC will now retain complete control of sanctioning debates, picking moderators and setting the schedule.
We’ll have the full details once the information is officially released from the RNC detailing exactly what kind of control the changes will entail.