RNC Considers ‘Lincoln-Douglas’ Debates

by Robert Costa

Newt Gingrich may have run in the wrong cycle.

The former House speaker, long a proponent of Lincoln-Douglas debates, should be a fan of the Republican National Committee’s latest idea for the 2016 presidential primary: Lincoln-Douglas debates, which would enable candidates to make lengthy policy points without an over-intrusive moderator.

Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, told reporters today at a National Review briefing that he is considering “Lincoln-Douglas-type debates.”

“Everything’s on the table, but the most important thing is that we have a reasonable amount of debates — allow our candidates to be featured, allow everyone plenty of time to make their case,” Priebus said. “I mean, what happened last time was a free-for-all, and it just shouldn’t happen again.”

During the 2012 GOP primary, Gingrich held a series of Lincoln-Douglas debates, sparring with Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain on separate occasions. The RNC, however, had nothing to do with those events. Gingrich also repeatedly promised during the primaries that, if he were nominated, he would challenge President Obama to seven three-hour-long debates, mimicking the 1858 face-offs.

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