RNC may sanction presidential debates that double as fundraisers

The Republican National Committee is considering sanctioning a series of monthly presidential candidate debates beginning in August that would be paired with committee fundraisers, a party official confirmed to The Ballot Box.

The RNC is in the process of soliciting input from its members on what form the events will take. One proposal is that candidates would attend RNC fundraisers that would coincide with the sanctioned debates. The forums would run through the start of the primary season in February 2012.

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The money raised would go to the RNC's Presidential Trust.

News of the events was first reported by Politico, which quoted an email from RNC Chief of Staff Jeff Larson. He touted the proposal as a win-win for the candidates and the committee.

“Those candidates invited to participate in RNC-sanctioned debates will be allowed to participate in a list exchange with the RNC,” Bopp wrote. Getting access to the committee's voter file and donor list would be a boon to the candidates' campaigns and create an incentive to participate.

There's no doubt that the the RNC needs the money that would be generated from these events. It was $21 million in debt at the end of February going into an election cycle where President Obama is expected to raise some $1 billion for his reelection effort.

In January, former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan predicted that the RNC will need to raise $350 to $400 million in the next two years in order to be competitive in 2012.

The RNC had earlier floated the idea of selling the broadcast rights for its presidential debates, but that proposal did not get a warm reception from the television networks.