Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel issued a stark warning to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The commission has a record of “significant errors” and “undermined the conditions for fair and impartial debates” by making “unilateral changes” to agreed-upon formats.
McDaniel warned that if the CPD refuses to adopt “significant reforms,” the RNC will advise future presidential candidates to not participate in CPD-sponsored debates.
“The CPD’s repeated missteps and the partisan actions of its Board Members make clear that the organization no longer provides the fair and impartial forum for presidential debates which the law requires and the American people deserve. Unless the CPD adopts significant reforms to ensure that it better fulfills this important, nonpartisan function, the RNC will have no choice but to advise its future nominees against participating in CPD-hosted debates,” McDaniel wrote. “First, the CPD’s record of significant errors calls the organization’s basic competency into question... The CPD also has undermined the conditions for fair and impartial debates by making unilateral changes to previously agreed-upon formats and conditions, in some instances without even notifying the candidates.”
She pointed out that the CPD tapped Steve Scully, a noted partisan who previously worked for Joe Biden, to moderate a debate between Trump and Biden.
“Furthermore, the CPD’s history of vetting and selecting its pool of potential moderators despite obvious conflicts of interest is incomprehensible. It should be obvious, for instance, that no person should serve as a moderator who previously worked for one of the candidates. Nevertheless, the CPD selected Steve Scully as a moderator even though he had once worked for Joe Biden. It came as little surprise to Republicans then when Mr. Scully accidentally revealed that he was seeking advice on how to attack the President from one of his fiercest critics. Mr. Scully then went on to lie and claim that his twitter account had been hacked. The CPD defended Mr. Scully, only for him later to admit that was not true,” she continued.
"The @GOP needs assurances that the CPD will make meaningful reforms to the debate process by working with stakeholders to restore the faith and legitimacy it has lost." – @GOPChairwoman pic.twitter.com/C2boZDO1sG— GOP (@GOP) June 2, 2021
The RNC and Trump campaign previously voiced grievances with the CPD for last-minute changes to debate formats; Trump floated skipping a debate with Biden on account of biases from the commission.