Ari Fleischer, a co-chair of the Republican National Committee’s post-election report, tells National Review Online that party officials are seeking more control over the 2016 GOP presidential primary.
“The goal is to implement a structure that improves the early stages of the process, specifically between December 2015 and late February or March 2016, when primary season begins,” Fleischer says.
Fleischer says RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who coordinated the report, hopes to limit the number of initial primary debates, and have those debates managed by or affiliated with the national party.
“There is a growing consensus that there were too many debates last year,” he explains. “It’s going to take time to figure out the specifics, but the party wants to limit the debates” and select the hosts.
Running the primary calendar from the Beltway, he acknowledges, will be difficult: “It’s just a lot harder than most people think to get the number of debates to a reasonable level, since there is real pressure on the candidates from the state parties to participate.”
Fleischer knows that some Republicans, especially little-known contenders, will balk at the idea of fewer debates. “There will always be some candidates who will need and want many debates,” he says. “But that doesn’t diminish the appeal of party-run debates.”