The day after CNN and ABC News both announced their respective plans to host 2024 Republican presidential primary debates next month, the Republican National Committee says it’s pausing participation in the televised debate process, the organization announced Friday.
The RNC’s decision, reported Friday afternoon by Politico, means that any upcoming debates, not limited to the recently-announced CNN and ABC News affairs, will be hosted by news networks independent of the committee.
“We have held four successful debates across the country with the most conservative partners in the history of a Republican primary. We have no RNC debates scheduled in January and any debates currently scheduled are not affiliated with the RNC,” the RNC’s Committee on Presidential Debates said in a statement to Politico. “It is now time for Republican primary voters to decide who will be our next President and candidates are free to use any forum or format to communicate to voters as they see fit.”
The RNC has partnered with television outlets on four GOP primary debates this election cycle so far: The NewsNation debate on Dec. 6; the NBC News debate on Nov. 8; the Fox Business-Univision debate on Sept. 27, and the opening 2024 Republican primary debate with Fox News on Aug. 23.
The most-recent debate featured four candidates — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov./former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The first debate, back in August, featured eight candidates.
Former President Donald Trump has declined to participate in any of the four GOP primary debates so far, and it’s unlikely he’ll participate in any going forward. He reportedly has urged RNC chair Ronna McDaniel to shut down any potential RNC-sanctioned primary debates, arguing his substantial lead in the primary polls won’t change and that the RNC and Republican party apparatus should instead focus on the 2024 general election and him trying to defeat President Joe Biden.
Without RNC participation (at least for the time being), the news organization(s) hosting any future debate will exclusively determine who qualifies for said event. For example, in order to qualify for its Jan. 10 and Jan. 21 televised debates, CNN has said that candidates must poll at 10% in approved national and early-state surveys. ABC News has yet to announce the qualification standards for its Jan. 18 debate.