Psaki: Why is GOP afraid of presidential debates?

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBriefing in brief: WH counters GOP attacks on planned SCOTUS pick The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems ready for Supreme Court lifeline Biden to deliver remarks with Breyer at the White House on Thursday MORE on Thursday suggested the Republican National Committee (RNC) was afraid of participating in presidential debates after the group issued a letter discouraging any of its presidential candidates from taking part in the events staged by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The RNC alerted the commission that it plans to require GOP presidential nominees not to attend debates run by the commission going forward. The letter was a nod to growing complaints from former President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE and his allies, who in 2016 and 2020 claimed debate moderators were biased against him.

"The president has participated in many debates over the course of his career and believes they play a role in allowing the American people to hear from candidates and where they stand," Psaki told reporters when asked for President BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE's response.

ADVERTISEMENT

"So, I think it’s a question best posed to the RNC on what they’re so afraid of," she added. 

She deferred questions to the Democratic National Committee about whether Biden would participate in a debate organized outside of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organized the events for decades.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielBiden's strategy for midterm elections comes into focus DNC hits GOP for having 'no agenda,' echoing Biden Romney says it 'would be nuts' for the RNC to block candidates from commission debates MORE said in Thursday's letter that GOP voters "have lost trust" in the commission and noted that the RNC has proposed a number of reforms to the debate process.

In response, the Commission on Presidential Debates said it "deals directly with candidates for president and vice president who qualify for participation," adding that it was focused on fairness and neutrality and allowing the public to hear from the general election candidates. 

Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime HarrisonJaime HarrisonMcConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash DNC torn over Biden messaging as midterms loom Psaki: Why is GOP afraid of presidential debates? MORE accused the RNC of deciding "they would rather hide their ideas and candidates from voters" in a statement on Thursday. 

"During the last presidential election, the Republicans decided to not have a platform for the first time ever so it’s a natural progression, first no platform and now no debates," Harrison said. "Regardless of the RNC’s tantrum, voters can count on hearing from President Biden and Vice President Harris, who are proud of their records.”