Psaki: Why is GOP afraid of presidential debates?

White House press secretary Jen Psaki 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 Trump 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 Biden’s response.

“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 McDaniel 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 Harrison 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.”

Tags 2024 campaign Commission on Presidential Debates Donald Trump Jaime Harrison Jen Psaki Joe Biden Presidential debates Ronna McDaniel

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