Why Debate Chaos Won't End Soon

Nov 02, 2015

Representatives of most GOP campaigns found little common ground when they met outside of Washington Sunday evening in a bid seize back control of the debates process from the Republican National Committee. While the campaigns agreed to jointly demand shorter debates in cooler rooms without "lightning round" questions, the more substantive issues like who should moderate and what to do about the "undercard" candidates remained unresolved, with little hope for progress.

The meeting, held in frustration in the campaigns over the RNC's organizing of the debates in place of the campaigns and in protest of last week's CNBC debate, exposed that like on substantive issues, the candidates all have different complaints and priorities about how their debates are conducted. Jeb Bush's campaign manager called for reinstating February's planned debate with the Spanish-language network Telemundo because of the need to reach out to Latino voters in advance of the general election, only to have Donald Trump's campaign manager raise objection and threaten to boycott. The result revealed the impossibility of the RNC's original task, which was why the networks wanted the party to serve as its intermediary with campaigns in the first place: with 14 candidates remaining in the race, with different strengths and priorities, reaching consensus on even basic issues can be painstaking. The RNC shuffled staff Sunday before the meeting in a signal to the campaigns that it will take their concerns more seriously, but the debates will likely be a flashpoint for months to come.

Values Voters Summit
VIEW GALLERY | 20 PHOTOS
Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by stars and stripes at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2014.Mark Peterson—Redux
Values Voters Summit
USA - Hillary Clinton speaks at Iowa Senator Tom Harken'a annual Steak Fry
Jeb Bush
Sen. Bernie Sanders Launches Presidential Bid In Vermont
Political Theatre
Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina listens to her introduction from the side of the stage at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015.
Georgia Senate Candidate David Perdue Campaigns With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rick Perry
Bobby Jindal
Martin O'Malley
Marco Rubio
Ben Carson
Barack Obama, Jim Webb
John Kasich, Election
Conservative Political Action Conference
Scott Walker
Mike Huckabee
Former Rhode Island Governor Chafee poses for a selfie with a student after announcing he will seek the Democratic nomination to be U.S. president during an address to the GMU School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs in Arlington
FILE: Lindsey Graham To Run For President
Former New York governor George Pataki listens to a question at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, in this April 17, 2015 file photo. Pataki on May 28, 2015 entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, joining a crowded field of candidates vying to retake the White House for their party. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files
Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by stars and stripes at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2014.
Mark Peterson—Redux
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Bernie Sanders has a new TV ad. Paul Ryan rules out immigration reform with Obama. And Marco Rubio responds to a leaked Bush attack.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Marco Rubio Pushes Back on Leaked Jeb Bush Strategy Memo

He says Bush is doing "Hillary Clinton's job for her," TIME's Michael Scherer reports

Christie Takes a Shot at GOP Rivals Over Debate Concerns

"If you can’t handle that stage, you got no chance of handling Hillary Clinton next fall" [TIME]

Republicans ‘don’t have a vision,’ Ryan says in first interviews as speaker

Ryan says he will set the agenda for Republicans going into 2016 campaigns. [Washington Post]

Republican Party Backs Out of NBC Debate Amid Outrage With CNBC

Cites 'gotcha, petty' questions [TIME]

What Changed While Jeb Was Gone
A man from another media moment [BuzzFeed]

Sound Off

"I didn't see it. . . . Look, you've been around a long time. You know that comparing and contrasting is part of this. But the basis of my campaign is that we can fix these problems and people can be lifted out of poverty and the great middle can get rising income again. That's the purpose of my campaign. That's what I focus on each and every day." —Jeb Bush on Meet the Press on his campaign's leaked slide deck attacking Marco Rubio.

"It will not stop me. It will not scare me. And maybe the ladies of 'The View,' if I come back on again, let's see if they have the guts to say that to my face." —Carly Fiorina on the hosts of "The View" who suggested "she looked demented," during last week's debate.

Bits and Bites

Sanders campaign shifting to broaden primary appeal [Boston Globe]

Bernie Sanders Releases First Campaign Ad [TIME]

Jeb Bush gave this black community a charter school. Then he moved on. [Washington Post]

Hillary Clinton’s Press Operation Gets an Overhaul [New York Times]

Paul Ryan Says He Won’t Work With Obama on Immigration Reform [New York Times]

Budget Pact Raids Victims Fund [Wall Street Journal]

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