Republican Party kicks NBC News out of sponsoring February debate

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Carr: Spineless RNC will cave in to NBC.

A longtime political advisor to Jeb Bush posted a pair of tweets seemingly warning 2016 rival Marco Rubio that there would be future attacks headed his way. Before the Republican candidates had even walked off the CNBC debate stage in Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday evening, their anger and frustration were pouring into public view, creating a crisis for the candidates, their party and the television networks hosting this year’s debates.

By every measure, the Florida senator’s bid for the Republican nomination has grown more robust in October, boosted again by a strong showing in Wednesday night’s debate. Mike Murphy, who runs the Right to Rise, a PAC that supports Bush, wrote that the Rubio campaign is “silly” if it thinks “the senator’s record will not be fully vetted in this primary.” The message comes as the Bush campaign tries to stymie a downward spiral it has fallen into.

And on Friday, the Republican National Committee took action, suspending a debate scheduled for Feb. 26 hosted by NBC News and its sister station, Telemundo. The move illustrated the party’s distrust of the mainstream media, its leading candidates’ preoccupation with rebelling against power, and the tactical wager that Republicans can outmaneuver television networks dependent on record-breaking ratings from this year’s debates. On Friday, it was announced that his campaign’s Chief Operating Officer Christine Ciccone would depart and that Rubio had won the support of influential billionaire Paul Singer. The action came after a flurry of calls in which the candidates’ representatives conveyed their fury to party leaders over what they described as the hostile tone of the anchors moderating the debates. “While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and meanspirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates,” the party’s chairman, Reince Priebus, wrote in a letter to Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News. Instead of voters being able to assess candidates’ positions and discern differences on policy, the format turns into a personality contest, which may explain why Donald Trump and Ben Carson are still leading in the polls.

The action by the party leadership seemed designed in part to redirect Republican anger away from the national committee, which many believe has bungled the debate process. Murphy has made it clear to people he wants to zero in on Rubio, but would like to temporarily hold off at the moment because doing so might look desperate after this week, The New York Times reported. As a lure back to the bargaining table, perhaps NBC “News” can offer the GOP candidates transportation to the next debate in special GM trucks — you know, the ones that NBC’s “Dateline” rigged up to explode, in yet another faked network news story. At a “young professionals” happy hour at a downtown sports bar, the 44-year-old Rubio told a rowdy group that he woke up that morning “still kind of wired” from the debate.

Carl Quintanilla’s opening question was, “What is your biggest weakness?” It was a ridiculous way to start the debate — and the questions didn’t get that much better as the evening progressed. Donor enthusiasm has given campaign leaders who have prided themselves on a slim and sleek operation — partly out of necessity because of low cash flow — the confidence to increase hiring. Because I used to watch CNBC, until I got tired of their dreary corporate puffery interspersed with leftist spin (the only exceptions being Rick Santelli and occasionally Larry Kudlow). On the agenda: forcing both the committee and the networks to address their concerns, including format (such as the debates’ length and whether candidates have opening statements) and airtime for each candidate. Ostensibly, the debate will focus on economic issues (which the CNBC one was supposed to do, as well, but didn’t), with Fox hosts Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo along with WSJ Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker.

Rubio is steadily adding resources in each of the first four voting states, and the campaign just signed an office lease in South Carolina, the third state voting in the primaries early next year. The rules will allow any candidate who polls above 2.5 percent to participate; that is a low bar that serves no one’s interest but the fringe candidates’. If the bar were raised to 5 percent, we’d have a real chance of seeing an actual debate, though it might mean Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee would be absent unless their numbers were to improve over the next week. The former Florida governor came to the debate after briefing his top fundraisers on a strategy that hinges on overpowering Rubio, whom his campaign sees as his most dangerous competitor for the voters and donors who want to see a traditional nominee.

But it might force him to make a decision about whether to continue his race, which has sucked up a lot of money that might be better redirected to a candidate who can inspire voters; yes, I’m thinking Marco Rubio. But other contenders — from Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s allies to Florida newspapers — have seized on that line of attack, and it is likely to persist.

His father was Richard Harwood, another extinguished scribe, for the Washington Post, a newspaper that had to give back a Pulitzer Prize for making stuff up. The elder Harwood is best remembered for his puzzling actions in 1972, when according to the Times (must be true, right?), “He voiced skepticism about the gravity of the Watergate break-in and criticized the experience of the two young reporters assigned to report it.” The old man went to bat to protect the second-most corrupt administration in American history, Republican. In an interview with Breitbart News published this week, Trump called Rubio “incapable of telling the truth.” However, Rubio-rippers have their work cut out for them: He was one of the best-liked candidates in an Associated Press-Gfk poll conducted this month, with registered Republicans viewing him more favorably than unfavorably by a 31 point margin, second only to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Forty-plus years later, his son is equally committed to torpedoing the truth on behalf of the status quo, even though the most corrupt regime ever is now a pack of baying moonbat Democrats.

Rubio would continue to show his command of issues but have to face tough questions (if moderators are capable of asking them) on his economic policies. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. “Debates are a crucial part of the democratic process, and we should have leverage with the networks, which isn’t afforded to us by the central planning.” Of course, attacking the media, especially the so-called liberal media, is a popular and time-tested Republican trope.

As the party has moved toward the conservative base, the candidates, by criticizing the press and debate moderators, have been able to score points with their core supporters while inoculating themselves from tough questions or criticism after a poor debate performance. Rubio has sketched out the basics of proposals on China, education and taxes, among other issues; Saturday is the last day of his “31 Days of Policy.” But he’ll have to go deeper into detail as the race intensifies.

Priebus blasted out his letter over social media, accusing CNBC of conducting the debate in “bad faith,” and suspending the network’s next debate at the University of Houston. “The R.N.C.’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future,” Mr. Rubio said Friday during a campaign appearance in Iowa he was grateful for the billionaire’s backing. “It’ll help us with resources,” he said. “Resources alone are not enough. By increasing the number of debates and vastly expanding the numbers of participants, we’ve diminished the value of debates to those who matter: the voters. Bush’s campaign, in its presentation last week to donors at a Houston gathering, noted 12 staffers in New Hampshire and another 25 spread among the other three early states.

But not everyone was supportive. “They were more concerned with acting like the big dog,” said a Republican strategist who had spoken with the R.N.C. Campaign ads are to begin the week after Thanksgiving, with plans to spend about $17 million through the early primary contests, according to information provided by Kantar Media’s CMAG advertising tracker. Carson’s campaign, a leader in the call for Sunday’s gathering, also spent Friday reaching out to the other campaigns trying to line up support for three key goals: fewer debates (no more than one per month), having all the candidates on stage and allowing longer opening and closing statements. “This is nothing but a TV show wrapped in commercials, with the political candidates as the talent,” Doug Watts, communications director for the Carson campaign, said. “Who is that serving?” It is unclear if the candidates will get their way. No other presidential candidate has benefited from so much advertising by a secret-money nonprofit, a potential liability with voters who have said in polls that they are tired of big donors and secret money flowing into elections.

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