Following the third Republican presidential debate, which many considered to be a debacle based on the performance of CNBC’s moderators, the Republican National Committee (RNC) publicly announced they would suspend their partnership with NBC News.
Now it seems the Republican presidential campaigns have gone rogue, privately meeting with debate broadcasters on Nov. 1 in order to negotiate with them directly to alter the format of the debates -- pushing the RNC out of that role, NPR reported.
Though RNC Chairman Reince Priebus promised to make staff changes within the GOP, campaign leaders apparently didn’t feel it was sufficient. One campaign manager anonymously told The Washington Post, “(The) major question is if the RNC should be involved at all.”
"We're going to negotiate directly with the sponsors about format," Barry Bennett, campaign manager for Dr. Ben Caron, confirmed to NPR. Still, he said the RNC won’t be out of the election completely. "They're a partner," he said. "They're just not our boss.”
Bennett said that campaigns were seeking an equal number of questions for each candidate, opening and closing statements and control over the biographical information displayed on screen.
Despite the apparent unity around certain issues, the campaigns still don’t agree on everything. For example, Danny Diaz, campaign manager for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, recommended that Telemundo be reinstated after it was dropped as a broadcaster because it’s owned by NBC, The Washington Post reports. However, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, threatened to boycott that debate.
Trump’s campaign was also interested in reducing the number of candidates on stage, while others were pushing for more equality. Representatives from the campaigns of Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed for two debates with seven randomly selected candidates.
Though it’s still unclear what exactly the outcome of these talks will be, Priebus insists that the RNC shouldn’t be counted out just yet.
"The truth is: We're involved, we're in control, we're setting the calendar," Priebus said on ABC's "Good Morning America” on Nov. 1, according to The Huffington Post. "The ability to sanction or de-sanction a debate is with the RNC. And the candidates want that to be with the RNC because we have the leverage to make that happen.”