Newt Gingrich has no interest in being a participant in another debate where the audience isn’t allowed to audibly react.
“We’re going to serve notice on future debates,” Gingrich told Fox News this morning. “We’re just not going to allow that to happen. That’s wrong. The media doesn’t control free speech. People ought to be allowed to applaud if they want to.”
He said he regretted that he had not “protested” when it was announced the audience was to be silent.
“I think he took them out of it,” Gingrich said of NBC moderator Brian Williams, “because the media is terrified that the audience is going to side with the candidates against the media, which is what they’ve done in every debate.”
UPDATE: I called up the Commission on Presidential Debates, which handles the general election debates, and they confirmed that audience participation has not been allowed in the past in debates, and will not be allowed this cycle either. So, if Gingrich is the GOP nominee, he’ll have to face a silent audience during his debates with the President unless the rules are changed.
UPDATE II: Asked if the Gingrich campaign would ask the Commission to change the rule requiring the audience to be silent if Gingrich became the nominee, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond e-mails NRO, “Yes, we would. If we have learned one thing it is [that] people, not the media-moderators, pick the winner.”