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The RNC’s new debate pledge is a cult-like tribute to Trump’s incompetence

The Republican National Committee sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates saying future presidential nominees won't participate unless its demands are met.
Photo Illustration: A Democrat donkey stands alone on the debate stage
Something's missing...Justine Goode; MSNBC / Getty Images

The Republican National Committee is planning to force the party’s presidential candidates to sign a pledge refusing to participate in debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan organization that has officiated debates for more than 30 years. 

The news was first reported in a New York Times scoop on Thursday. NBC News also shared the letter RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent to the commission saying the RNC will ban participation in commission-sponsored debates unless the commission agrees to their demands. Those demands include greater say in how debate moderators are chosen, term limits for debate commission board members and restricting what members are allowed to say about candidates. 

In reality, it was Trump’s unhinged debate performances that helped seal his fate as eventual loser in that year’s election.

While McDaniel says this is all about "fairness," her demands are really just a slavish nod to Donald Trump. The RNC is coddling Trump’s ego by suggesting debate policies harmed him and the party in 2020. In reality, it was Trump’s unhinged debate performances that helped seal his fate as eventual loser in that year’s election. 

Perhaps, you remember: In the first presidential debate, moderated by former Fox News host Chris Wallace, Trump instructed the Proud Boys extremist group to “stand back and stand by” when asked if he would denounce them. (As I’m sure you remember, Trump couldn’t stop talking during that debate). Then, after testing positive for Covid-19, he refused to participate in the second scheduled debate because it was virtual. And when Trump and Biden finally met for a debate on Oct. 22, the debate commission employed a mute button to prevent the president from interrupting his rival. 

Weeks removed from the revelation that the RNC has been paying Trump’s legal bills as he fends off multiple criminal and civil cases, the group’s new debate stance just continues its trend of adopting Trump’s grievances as its own. 

And if the RNC does go through with its threat, we can expect a lot more GOP candidates made in Trump’s image: awful communicators with huge egos who despise being held accountable in public.