GOP Debate: Fallout From CNBC Debacle Continues, Campaigns Want More Control

The GOP debate fallout continues following the much-talked about CNBC debacle, prompting a meeting between several campaigns, including representatives from frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are asking for more control over the debate format.

Millions of potential voters were disappointed to see the direction in which CNBC moderators took the last GOP debate, scheduled by the Republican National Committee (RNC) with the network with the agreement that business related questions would be asked. Instead, what a record 14-million viewers saw was what Republican candidates are calling “gotcha questions” and clear bias.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, the antagonistic attitude from the CNBC moderators, which included Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood, resulted in a revolt led by Senator Ted Cruz, who openly criticized the tone of the questions asked and got a roaring applause from the live audience.

But Cruz wasn’t the only one who called out the CNBC moderators. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also pointed out to Quintanilla, “Do you want to answer the question, Carl, or do you want me to answer.” On Sunday, the fed-up GOP candidates’ representatives held a meeting, to which the RNC head, Reince Priebus, who many accuse of being partly at fault for the apparent bias shown thus far in GOP debates, was not invited.

GOP debate schedule: RNC suspends NBC debate
Republican candidates answer questions during the CNBC GOP debate (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

According to the Washington Post, the effort was in response to the growing frustrations with the debate format — which allows moderators to interrupt before the candidates has an opportunity to respond to the question — and in some instances the moderators themselves trying to make their own points. The report indicates representatives from 11 campaigns met on Sunday to discuss how to move forward after the RNC — in an unprecedented move — suspended the upcoming GOP debate scheduled with NBC for February 26, in Houston, Texas.

Most observers believe the previously-scheduled GOP debate will still happen despite Priebus’ scathing letter after the CNBC GOP debate. (Read the full text of Priebus’ letter at Variety).

“CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on ‘the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.’ That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case. Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.

“I have tremendous respect for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. However, I also expect the media to host a substantive debate on consequential issues important to Americans. CNBC did not.”

GOP frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson
GOP frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The CNBC GOP debate exposed the increasing tension between the RNC and the Republican candidates, who are exceedingly frustrated by an unusual year with non-establishment candidates which has seen businessman Donald Trump and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson leading all national and state polls. Established politicians such as Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie are in the single digits in most polls, while Trump and Carson are far ahead in double digits.

Shortly before the meeting, Priebus announced a shakeup within the GOP ranks, which is seen as an attempt to calm the unhappy Republican candidates. After arriving for the meeting, the campaign managers attending said that the RNC shakeup is not enough and one anonymous representative questions whether the RNC should be involved in the planning of GOP debates at all.

A consensus was reached by the campaigns attending the meeting in Washington, D.C., on Sunday that any changes would go into effect after the Fox News GOP debate scheduled for November 10 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

According to the New York Times, the Republican candidates representatives agreed on the following requests to change the GOP debate format.

“… opening and closing statements of at least 30 seconds, ‘parity and integrity’ on questions, meaning that all candidates would receive similarly substantive questions, no so-called lightning rounds, and approval of any graphics that are aired during the debate.”

In addition, campaign representatives agreed that they would like to take the RNC out of the negotiation process and move to agree about future GOP debate rules themselves. Some of the candidates threatened to walk off the stage if they feel they are being treated unfairly, while Christie mocked his fellow GOP candidates for complaining and questioned how they are expected to handle the Presidency if they can’t take unfair moderators, according to NBC.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]