Donald Trump’s campaign will negotiate directly with television networks over upcoming debate formats, despite a letter circulated late Sunday so that the candidates could make collective demands.
“As we have for the previous three debates, the Trump Campaign will continue to negotiate directly with the host network to establish debate criteria that will determine Mr. Trump’s participation,” a Trump campaign spokesperson said in a statement. “This is no different than the process that occurred prior to the FOX, CNN, and CNBC debates.”
Trump has already held direct negotiations with networks over debates, including working with CNBC to keep the debate time at two hours. The other Republican campaigns have also held conversations directly with the networks before debates.
According to the Washington Post, Trump will reject the joint letter to television hosts written by spokespeople from at least eleven other campaigns, and instead take a “lead” role negotiating on his own over the format and content of the debates.
In a meeting Sunday, the Republican campaigns talked about seeking several specific demands, including no lightning round questions, keeping the temperature low and controlling on-screen bio graphics. There was no consensus on whether or not to let the undercard candidates onto the main stage or on whether to allow NBC to host another debate— which Trump is threatening to boycott even if the Republican National Committee agrees to let the network host.
“What it really comes down to is the candidates want to have more control of the ability to negotiate with the networks,” Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said after the meeting, according to the Associated Press.
The joint meeting and Trump’s move to negotiate come after the Republican National Committee suspended its relationship with NBC for a February debate Friday, complaining of “gotcha” questions during October’s CNBC debate.
With additional reporting by Zeke J. Miller