Postmodern Conservative

Letter from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to ABC News

Regarding the February 6, 2016 Republican Debate

Mrs. Chelsea Clinton-Mezvinsky

Debate Coordinator, ABC News

47 W 66th St.

New York, New York 10023

Dear Mrs. Clinton-Mezvinski,

I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with ABC News for Republican primary debates during the 2020 election cycle. The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future. We simply cannot continue with ABC during the primaries without full consultation with our campaigns.

ABC billed the February 6, 2016 debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.”  That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case.  Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question from chief moderator Bill Clinton directed to one of our candidates asked why he favored laws to reinstate slavery, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.

While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, ABC’s moderators Lanny Davis, David Brock, and Sidney Blumenthal engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates. What took place Saturday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas. 

I am utterly shocked at the behavior of your moderators, and their failure to live up to the promises they made to our candidates. We expected better of them.

I will be working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward and will be in touch.

I look forward to working with you to set up a general election debate.


Reince Priebus

Chairman, Republican National Committee


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