RNC Withdraws from Commission That Sponsors Presidential Debates 

The Republican National Committee has completely withdrawn from its participation in the Commission on Presidential Debates.  The organization has for decades governed general-election presidential debates. 

The commission drew ire from former president Donald Trump during his 2020 campaign. After a unanimous vote on Thursday to withdraw, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the commission “biased” and said that it refused to enact “simple” “common sense” reforms for debates. She claimed the changes were needed to ensure “fair debates.” 

The commission was formed in 1987. It has always been a nonprofit sponsored by both parties and has sponsored debates in every election since 1988. The group’s co-chairs include a former RNC chairman, Frank Fahrenkopf. 

The vote was not a huge surprise. It came after months of the RNC signaling that it wanted to break away from the commission. Last year in June, McDaniel sent a letter to the commission with a list of complaints about their practices. It reflected the language of Trump, of whom McDaniel is a known and loud supporter. 

In January this year, McDaniel doubled down, sending another letter that threatened to prohibit future RNC nominees from participating in the debates unless the rules were changed to reflect her grievances. 

The RNC claims that it has not completely pulled all future nominees from debates entirely. 

In Trump’s 2020 campaign, he and his aides often complained about the moderators who were selected. They also complained about decisions to host the second debate virtually, even though it was when the Covid pandemic was at a high point. They also did not like that mics were muted after the first contest included massive interruptions from Trump, over and over again. 

McDaniel has long echoed Trump’s concerns, about this and about other issues. On this matter, McDaniel continued to push for more influence over what journalists would moderate the debates, something Trump long demanded. 

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