CNBC agrees to Trump demand on debate

Greg Nash

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpReport: Trump made ‘Apprentice’ staff work through Superstorm Sandy aftermath Obama in Nevada: 'Heck no' to Trump, Joe Heck Trump in 2012: 'I don't believe in' deporting many illegal immigrants MORE said Friday that CNBC had agreed to his demands to limit its upcoming Republican debate to two hours.

A later report from CNN also said CNBC had agreed to limit the debate to two hours after calls to do so from Trump and fellow GOP candidate Ben Carson.

CNN reported that the Republican National Committee was calling Republican campaigns to tell them that CNBC had agreed to a two-hour debate with commercials. The network had suggested the debate would run for two hours, plus commercials. 

CNBC would not comment on Trump's tweet when reached by The Hill.

GOP candidates have been pressing for shorter debates after CNN aired a three-hour debate in September. 

Cable networks have enjoyed blockbuster ratings from the debates, perhaps largely because of voter interest in GOP front-runner Trump.

Trump and Carson told CNBC that both candidates would skip the Oct. 28 debate in Colorado unless it was a maximum of two hours, including commercials, and included time for opening and closing statements from the candidates.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus indicated in a tweet Friday afternoon that the two-hour debate would include 30-second opening and closing remarks. 
Ed Brookover, a Carson campaign aide, told The Hill that while the campaign hasn't yet heard from the RNC to confirm the changes, the White House hopeful would be happy to take the debate stage if those conditions were met.
"We're glad that people reacted quickly because we think the real winner in this is fairness," he said. 
"If those are the assumptions, we're in."
Discontent from a handful of campaigns bubbled over during a telephone call on Thursday, where the network told candidates that the debate would skip opening and closing statements.

One GOP campaign source familiar with the call told The Hill Thursday that the campaigns were essentially unanimous on the call for opening and closing statements, which give candidates guaranteed time to address the broad audience.

The campaign source added that the Trump campaign was the main driver behind the complaints about the length of the debate. 

"People realized we got the short end of the stick when the Democrats had a 2 minute opening and a 90 second closing [during their debate], so they had three and a half minutes to a 15 million person audience of an infomercial," the source said.

"They get a commercial, we get ‘The Hunger Games.’ "

That frustration turned into the letters from Carson and Trump, first reported by NBC News, where the top two in the GOP presidential polls specifically threatened to pull out.  

Brian Steel, a CNBC spokesman, told The Hill Thursday in a statement that the network typically skips opening statements in order to have more time to focus on the question and answer portion. 

He added that the network will "take the candidates' views on the format into consideration as we finalize the debate structure."

CNN was reportedly charging more than $150,00 for a 30-second ad during its GOP debate, leading Trump to suggest that the network should send him flowers and a thank-you note.