Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Tuesday that he expects CNN and NBC to refuse his demand that they cease production of films about potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and repeated his threat to cut them out of the 2016 Republican primary debates.
“My guess is this is exactly what’s going to happen: They will produce the films, and we will cut them out,” Priebus told The Washington Post.
“I think that it’s about time that our party stand up for itself,” Priebus said. “We’ve got two major networks that are building up and producing films that will promote Hillary Clinton. ... That’s fine, but we’re going to cut you out.”
While Priebus admitted that the party cannot control candidates and cannot bar them from appearing in debates on the channels, he said the RNC’s control of the primary process would allow them to impose prohibitive primary-related penalties for such behavior at the RNC’s Summer Meeting. The meeting begins Aug. 14.
Priebus was confident such a tactic would succeed in keeping prospective 2016 nominees in line.
“If [the candidates’] nomination is actually tied to the debate calendar and the primary calendar itself and those penalties are strong enough, believe me, you’ll keep the candidates in the box,” he said.
State GOP chairmen have backed up Priebus on his threat; the chairmen for the state Republican parties in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina all threw their support behind his proposal on Monday afternoon.