GOP assigns staffer to handle debates, networks

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has assigned a new staff member as a liaison between presidential campaigns and the television networks amid controversy surrounding last week’s CNBC debate. 

An RNC representative confirmed that chairman Reince Priebus has assigned Sean Cairncross, the committee’s chief operating officer, to work with the campaigns on criteria. The campaigns were told in an email from the RNC. 

{mosads}“I know many of you have expressed some concern regarding how some of the details in the debate process have been handled to this point,” RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh said in an email to the campaigns obtained by The Washington Post. 

“While we believe most of the debate details have been handled well, I want you to know that at the RNC we have heard your concerns and take them very seriously.”

The decision comes just as representatives from many of the campaigns met just outside of Washington, D.C., to plot how to forge a unified front amid a flurry of complaints after last week’s debate. 

Campaigns trashed the network’s moderators and questions in the immediate aftermath of the CNBC debate, accusing the network of partisan questioning and failing to give all candidates substantial speaking time. 

Ben Carson’s team, which has been one of the more vocal critics of the current debate structure, told the Wall Street Journal that it wants the debates to go online instead of television as one proposed fix.

Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush’s team confronted the RNC during CNBC’s debate over the candidate’s lack of screen time — he spoke the least of all candidates on Wednesday’s main stage. 

Other campaigns are concerned about the logistics of debate questions and the criteria to get on stage. 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has been in the second-tier debates because of low polling numbers, doesn’t believe national polling should determine who gets on the main stage. 

And Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), also relegated to the rush-hour debates, wants the field split in half, with a random draw determining who is on stage in two separate debates. 

The next GOP debate is scheduled for Nov. 10 and will be hosted by Fox Business News. 

This story was updated at 8:18 p.m. 

Tags Ben Carson Donald Trump GOP debates Jeb Bush Marco Rubio Rand Paul Republican National Committee Republicans RNC Ted Cruz

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video